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Hundreds of doctors call for more scrutiny into DeSantis' surgeon general nominee

Dr. Joseph Ladap eschews much of the common medical advice about COVID-19.

More than 350 Florida doctors signed a letter asking state lawmakers to closely scrutinize Gov. Ron DeSantis’ nomination for surgeon general — a doctor who eschews much of the common medical advice about COVID-19.

At least 19 Jacksonville doctors signed the letter regarding Dr. Joseph Ladapo. They included Dr. Leonardo Alonso, an emergency physician who worries his patients will get confused with someone at the top spreading misinformation.

“I see a significant amount of people in the emergency department that are not vaccinated unfortunately even this late in the game, and you know I ask them why and you get different answers,” Alonso said. “The paranoia is limitless and then to throw a doctor or a medical doctor to make some of these ridiculous claims he's making in a position of authority just muddies the water even more.”

Ladapo opposes mask mandates and believes COVID-19 vaccines are overrated. He has supported natural immunity, or achieving herd immunity by allowing less vulnerable people to become infected.

Ladapo also has promoted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID, contradicting conclusions of the World Health Organization that the drug does not work.

Ladapo's positions put him into conflict with the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics on masks for children.

The doctors’ letter calls on the Republican-controlled Senate to look into Ladapo’s ties to a far-right political group that has spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s Frontline Doctors.

DeSantis announced his nomination on Sept. 21, when Ladapo criticized fear of COVID as a foundation for making public health decisions.

“Florida will completely reject fear as a way of making policies in public health,” Ladapo said.

The Florida Senate is set to confirm his nomination during its legislative session early next year.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.