Florida’s polarizing surgeon general is again breaking with basic guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus, saying Tuesday he cannot “communicate clearly” while wearing a face mask, an assertion he made in response to criticism over his refusal to wear a mask while meeting with a Democratic state senator last week, who ended up kicking him out of her office.
Dr. Joseph Ladapo said in a statement that he “attempted in good faith” to find a way to speak with State Sen. Tina Polsky (D), who requires mask-wearing in her office.
Polsky, who recently underwent surgery for breast cancer, was seeking to speak with Ladapo ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing, which Polsky said ended up leading to a “negotiation” over how to safely do so since Ladapo refused to wear a mask.
Ladapo suggested the two go outside to speak, but Polsky said it was too hot, before ultimately telling Ladapo to leave.
Polsky told WPTV-TV that Ladapo is the only person who’s ever been to her office who hasn’t complied with the mask requirement, saying his refusal came off as “smug,” adding, “I think he was enjoying it.”
“Having a conversation with someone while wearing a mask is not something I find productive, especially when other options exist,” Ladapo said in a statement posted on Twitter. “It is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can’t do that when half of my face is covered.”