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Florida Roundup

Dr. Joseph Ladapo Appointed Surgeon General; Texas-Style Anti-Abortion Bill

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OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA
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Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo as Florida Surgeon General

Gov. Ron DeSantis named Dr. Joseph Ladapo Florida’s new surgeon general this week. Ladapo has questioned the effectiveness of masks, downplayed vaccines and,  changed quarantine protocols for schools.

Pending his confirmation, Ladapo takes over as the COVID-19 testing positivity rate in Florida remains higher than 10 percent. Hospitalizations and new cases are falling from recent peaks, but the adult vaccination rate still lags behind the national average. 

On Tuesday, Ladapo said he believes getting a vaccine should be an individual choice. Meanwhile, doctors at hospitals across the state have been urging Florida residents to get vaccinated to avoid serious illness and death. 

One day into his tenure as the state’s top public health official, Ladapo signed a new order from the Department of Health  that says parents don't have to keep kids home from school after exposure to someone with COVID. 

Asymptomatic kids can return to school right away after exposure if their parents choose. That's despite the CDC's saying infected people can spread the virus up to two days before they show any symptoms.

Guest: Mary Ellen Klas, capitol bureau chief at The Miami Herald

Texas-Style Anti-Abortion Bill

This week a Republican lawmaker filed an anti-abortion bill in the Florida House. 

The bill would ban abortions as early as a month after conception. Like the Texas law, it has a so-called “bounty provision,” which allows anyone to sue doctors or anyone who assists with an abortion after what supporters call a “fetal heartbeat” is detected.

Reproductive health experts say the bill’s name is misleading because an embryo at six weeks’ gestation does not yet have a functional heart or a heartbeat. 

Meanwhile the U.S. House votes today on The Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 3755, which protects a person’s ability to decide to continue to end a pregnancy and would enshrine healthcare providers’ ability to offer abortion services “prior to fetal viability” without restrictions imposed by individual states.

Guests:

Florida Roundup Associate Producer Katherine Hobbs can be reached at khobbs@wjct.org or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.