Gov. DeSantis appoints health chief who declares 'we're done with fear'

Dr. Joseph Lapado is introduced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the state’s new surgeon general and secretary of the Department of Health (Office of the governor of Florida)

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed a new surgeon general and health secretary who opposes mask and vaccine mandates, arguing government must tell the truth to citizens and protect their autonomy.

“We’re done with fear,” said Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a Harvard-trained professor of medicine who was born in Nigeria.

Fear, he said at a news conference Tuesday, has been “a centerpiece of health policy in the United States ever since the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s over here. Expiration date. It’s done.”

He said vaccination has been “treated almost like a religion, and that’s just senseless.”

“There are lots of good pathways to health; vaccination is not the only one,” said Ladapo. “We support measures for good health, vaccination, losing weight, eating more fruits and vegetables.”

Ladapo, a professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said COVID policies must “respect human rights.”

“People do have autonomy over their lives. It’s not OK, it’s not virtuous, and it’s not right to just take away those rights from individuals,” he said.

See the news conference introducting Ladapo:

Ladapo has written op-eds in the Wall Street Journal challenging claims by establishment health officials.

A reporter on Tuesday asked him whether or not the COVID-19 vaccines should be feared.

Ladapo said the fears are driven by a “climate of mistrust.”

“That was a direct result of scientists, my colleagues, some of them, taking the science and basically misrepresenting it to fit their agendas,” the physician said.

“This idea that people don’t get to make their own decisions on issues of health is wrong, and it’s not something that we’re going to be about.”

DeSantis praised Lapado for his candor.

“Telling the truth is important, and I think that’s what Dr. Ladapo understands,” he said. “You’ve got to tell people the truth, and you’ve got to let them make decisions.”

The governor condemned public health officials who tell “noble lies,” such as insisting that natural immunity isn’t effective or durable and that everyone must get vaccinated.

“They think if you tell people that natural immunity provides strong protection that some people will say, ‘Well I might as well go get infected,'” DeSantis said.

He said he didn’t think most people would do that, but even if they did, “you have to say the truth to people.”

“You can’t tell noble lies to try to get them to behave in a way you think you want them to behave in,” said DeSantis.

He argued that if natural immunity wasn’t durable, we would see massive reinfections by now.

“No noble lies. You tell the truth on what the data is saying,” he said, and the same should be done regarding treatments.

The Democratic National Committee issued a statement accusing DeSantis of “wreaking havoc” on his state.

“Instead of going with a trusted advocate for science, DeSantis is once again playing games with peoples’ lives by appointing someone who has trafficked anti-vaccine and anti-mask rhetoric,” said DNC spokeswoman Adonna Biel. “The American people are ready to return to normalcy and the DeSantis playbook of prolonging the pandemic is dangerous and wreaking havoc on his own state.”

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