Please be aware, while this story focuses is about Florida, it’s really more than that. It’s about the sorry state of affairs in this country.
I’ve noticed that when I write about Florida-specific issues, I tend to get fewer views. As an example, my recent piece, “Rubio’s pandering knows no bounds,” (https://around-the-block.com/2021/09/15/rubios-pandering-knows-no-bounds/) received about one-half my typical readership. This, despite the fact that while the focus was on Florida’s senior senator, the issue, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley’s warning to China, that he would prevent an attack if ordered by an increasingly unstable Trump after January 6, should have been of interest to all Americans.
With that in mind, I’d like to share an Op-ed I submitted today to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in response to their damning editorial about Florida governor, Ron DeSantis’ appointment of a new state Surgeon General.
While I would imagine such “inside politics” would not generate much awareness from a state many of you think, in most respects, is crazy, I caution that kind of thinking – for those of you in Texas, Arizona, South Dakota, Missouri, Tennessee and almost any state run by a Republican governor, supported by a majority Republican legislature.
Even to my friends in California, who recently dodged a recall bullet – based on the results it appears that it was a blank – I say, relish your win, but don’t get too cocky: This can happen to you!
Another Viewpoint – Florida’s new surgeon general is not just reckless; he’s dangerous
I want to commend the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board for your excellent and necessary comments on Governor DeSantis’ selection of Dr. Joseph Ladapo as Florida’s new surgeon general. But, I wonder if you went far enough.
This appointment is an insult to most Floridians. Why? Because we now have a surgeon general who, according to news reports has, “written essays questioning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, the effectiveness of masks and the favoring of hydroxychloroquine, a drug touted by former President Donald Trump to treat the virus.” It has also been reported that he “is a critic of lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates and other mitigation measures.”
But most Floridians, you ask? Yes, most Floridians.
According to an August Morning Consult, only 19% of Floridians are vaccine refusers. When people who are vaccine uncertain are included, the number moves up to 30%. This leaves the overwhelming majority of Floridians supporting the idea of Covid-19 vaccinations.
But why should DeSantis care? After all, his campaign continues to raise money through the sale of offensive anti-Fauci merchandise, targeting Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease specialist whom 68% of respondents in an Annenberg Public Policy survey believe provides trustworthy advice on the pandemic. DeSantis’ affront to one of our true national heroes includes such gems as t-shirts inscribed with “Don’t Fauci My Florida” and “Keep Florida Free,” and beer koozies with a DeSantis quote, “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?”
Ladapo, a cardiovascular specialist who is not a trained epidemiologist or virologist, said at a news conference following his appointment, “vaccines are up to the person” and that there is “nothing special about them compared to any other preventative measure.” What isn’t clear in that statement is whether Lapado was referring only to the Covid-19 vaccines or all vaccines, including those mandated by the Department of Health which he now heads: Diphtheria, IPV (Polio), Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), Varicella (chickenpox), Haemophilus influenzae type b, Pneumococcal conjugate and Hepatitis B. He also didn’t opine on whether, despite the current mandates, these other vaccines are also “up to the person.”
What is clear is that Ladapo’s point of view on fighting this pandemic comes down to his statement, “The state should be promoting good health, and vaccination isn’t the only path to that. It’s been treated almost like a religion and it’s senseless. We support measures for good health — vaccinations, losing weight, exercising, eating more fruits and vegetables, everything.”
So, following the doctor’s advice, it seems that if we had only eaten our spinach we’d be, paraphrasing Popeye, “strong to the finich” and this pandemic might not have happened. Or maybe we should have been eating “an apple a day” in order to keep this doctor away.
One final note about our Governor.
It appears that DeSantis is trying to out-Trump his mentor by hiring, like Trump, “only the best people.” As I’m sure readers’ recall, Trump’s best people included Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Sebastian Gorka, Rick Gates…the list goes on. With this rogue’s gallery of miscreants, it must be extremely difficult for DeSantis to do better (worse?). It is clear to me, that in this case, the hire is worse, dangerously worse. The appointment of Dr. Ladapo as Surgeon General is not simply politically cynical on DeSantis’ part, it has the real potential of affecting the well-being and lives of the citizens this governor has sworn to protect.
(Ted Block is a retired advertising executive. He now resides in Delray Beach where, among other things, he publishes a commentary blog, “Around the Block.”
(Let me finish with this, to all my friends in California who believe there’s something in the water in the Sunshine State. The esteemed Dr. Ladapo comes from UCLA’s School of Medicine. Trump’s special Coronavirus advisor, the certifiable Dr. Scott Atlas – you remember him famously dismissing the value of face masks and social distancing, espousing that the pandemic could be controlled through “natural immunity” and blaming U.S. “media hysteria” for “worsening” the pandemic, that Scott Atlas – is from Stanford. Could it be that there’s something in the California water as well?)