State Sen. Tina Polsky says Dr. Joseph Ladabo refused to wear mask in her office

South Florida lawmaker recently diagnosed with breast cancer
Tina Polsky and Joseph Ladapo
Posted at 2:02 AM, Oct 24, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A state senator representing portions of Broward and Palm Beach counties said she asked Florida's new surgeon general to leave her office after he refused to wear a mask.

Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, told Florida Politics that she asked Dr. Joseph Ladapo and his two legislative aides to leave her office after he refused to put on a mask as requested.

"I told him I had a serious medical condition," Polsky, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, told Florida Politics.

Polsky said Ladapo requested to meet with her in Tallahassee earlier in the week ahead of a scheduled Florida Senate session to confirm his appointment by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

After she asked him to put on a mask, Ladapo instead offered to go outside, but she declined.

Tina Polsky, pictured in 2020, diagnosed with breast cancer
Then-Rep. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, speaks during session Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Tallahassee, Fla. Polsky was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Polsky told Florida Politics she finally asked whether there was a reason Ladapo couldn't wear a mask.

"He just smiles and doesn't answer," she told Florida Politics. "He's very smug, and I told him several times, 'I have this very serious medical condition.' And he said, 'That's OK,' like it basically has nothing to do with what we are talking about."

Polsky said she was hoping to be able to question Ladapo but "felt really uncomfortable."

Ladapo said last month during an introductory news conference that Florida "will completely reject fear as a way of making policies in public health."

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"So we're done with fear," Ladapo said, calling it the "centerpiece of health policy in the United States ever since the beginning of the pandemic."

Polsky, 53, was elected to the Florida Senate last year to fill the District 29 seat vacated by Kevin Rader, who retired. District 29 encompasses a large swath of southern Palm Beach County and a section of northern Broward County.

She previously served one term in the state House.