Dr. Joseph Ladapo: What we know about Florida's Surgeon General (2024)

One day after Gov. Ron DeSantis named him Florida’s top doctor, new Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo upended COVID-19 policies in schools — sparking yet another divide over battling the virus.

Ladapo enacted a new rule letting parents decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they are asymptomatic after being exposed to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

It eliminates previous requirements that students quarantine for at least four days off campus, if they’ve been exposed.

The move follows the approach of his boss, DeSantis, who has fought local school board efforts to require face masks in schools and other safety steps. DeSantis and Ladapo both say they worry about students being kept away from class.

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Dr. Joseph Ladapo: What we know about Florida's Surgeon General (1)

Who is Dr. Joseph Ladapo?

Ladapo earned his MD from Harvard Medical School and a PhD in health policy from that university’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Before coming to Florida, he was associate professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Ladapo has been outspoken on COVID-19, mostly by way of downplaying the benefits of mask-wearing, openly condemning business and school lockdowns, and signing on last year to the Great Barrington Declaration.

The declaration was signed by several prominent researchers who advanced herd immunity – not vaccines or social precautions – as a way to emerge from the pandemic. DeSantis has invited a few of the Great Barrington leaders to appear with him at COVID-19 roundtables in Florida.

Ladapo also hints that he has problems with the way Dr. Anthony Fauci and others are leading the fight against the virus.

“People have been taking the science and misrepresenting it,” Ladapo said Tuesday at the Florida Capitol, in remarks aimed at mainstream public health officials setting policy for the nation.

What is the Florida surgeon general's salary?

Dr. Ladapo will be paid$362,000-a-yearin dual roles as head of the state's Health Department and as a professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Will Dr. Joseph Ladapo promote COVID vaccines in Florida?

Standing beside DeSantis this week, Ladapo didn’t sound like he would prioritize vaccinations. In Florida, 56% of the population is fully immunized against COVID-19, slightly better than the national average.

In June, Ladapo co-authored an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Are Covid Vaccines Riskier Than Advertised?” which questioned the benefits of immunizing children, young adults and people who already had COVID-19.

Ladapo said getting vaccinated is a personal choice.

“There is nothing special about them compared to any other preventive measure,” he said. “The great thing about the vaccine…is that it prevents the risk of serious illness. Fantastic. People get to make the choice about what they want to do with that information.”

But he said too much focus has been on vaccines.

“It’s been treated almost like a religion, and that’s just senseless,” Ladapo said. “We support measures to good health. That’s vaccination, losing weight, exercising more, eating more fruits and vegetables, everything.”

What the new COVID-19 school mask mandate rule did

It overturned one of the lawsuits filed by several counties against the state’s prohibition on mask mandates in schools.

With the new rule, the Florida Department of Health said the lawsuit no longer applied — since it was focused on the old rule. An administrative law judge agreed, dismissing the lawsuit by school boards in Alachua, Broward, Miami-Dade, Leon and Orange counties.

The fate of other mask lawsuits also could be clouded.

“Limiting districts’ options and blocking them from following CDC guidelines is not in the best interest of the health of our students, employees or families,” said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.

What Ladapo says about COVID-19, shutdowns, more

The new surgeon general has written extensively during the pandemic.

He was featured in a video last year deleted by social media platforms for COVID-19 misinformation. Under the heading America’s Frontline Doctors, Ladapo was among those promoting President Donald Trump’s once-touted hyrdroxychloroquine as a cure for the virus and dismissing science that cast doubt on the compound.

One of the founders of America's Frontline Doctors was arrested during the deadly Jan. 6 pro-Trump uprising at the U.S. Capitol.

In USAToday last year, Ladapo wrote an Op-Ed blasting shutdowns for slowing what he suggested was a goal of herd immunity achieved by more people being exposed or contracting the virus.

With shutdowns, he wrote, “Unfortunately, this also means the rates of ‘community immunity,’ often referred to as ‘herd immunity’ will slow. As a result, we will always be vulnerable to the virus spreading rapidly again as soon as shutdown measures are lifted.”

John Kennedy is a reporter in the USA TODAY Network’s Florida Capital Bureau. He can be reached at jkennedy2@gannett.com, or on Twitter at @JKennedyReport

Dr. Joseph Ladapo: What we know about Florida's Surgeon General (2024)


How much does the Surgeon General of Florida make a year? ›

Ladapo makes $262,000 a year as a UF professor, including $75,000 for a role in which he's charged with “developing policies and interventions to reduce healthcare disparities for UF Health.” He earns another $250,000 for his role as the state's surgeon general, putting his total salary at $512,000 a year.

Who is the Surgeon General for the measles outbreak in Florida? ›

As a measles outbreak tears though Florida, the state's surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, is openly rejecting long-proven public health practices. He is not urging vaccination against this preventable, highly contagious, dangerous disease, and he advises parents to decide whether to keep unvaccinated kids at home.

Are state surgeon generals elected? ›

In three states, the post must be filled by a physician, and in all states, the post is appointed by the governor. In Florida, the state surgeon general is also the state's secretary of health, and in Arkansas, she or he also holds a joint appointment with the University of Arkansas School of Medicine.

Is the Surgeon General a military position? ›

As Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the Surgeon General oversees the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS), an elite group of over 6,000 uniformed officers working throughout the federal government whose mission is to protect, promote, and advance the ...

Who is the highest paying Surgeon? ›

Neurosurgeons are the highest-paid surgeons.

Can a Surgeon make a million a year? ›

Yes , it is possible for surgeons to make over 1,000,000 a year .

Who is the most common victim of measles? ›

Unvaccinated young children are at highest risk of measles and its complications, including death. Unvaccinated pregnant women are also at risk. Any non-immune person (who has not been vaccinated or was vaccinated but did not develop immunity) can become infected.

Why is the measles coming back? ›

Encourage MMR vaccination

After years of declining vaccination rates, measles cases are popping up around the country. And most of the measles cases have been in young children and adolescents who were eligible but didn't receive the MMR vaccine.

Who invented measles virus? ›

Measles spread worldwide from the Renaissance. Its epidemiology was remarkably studied in 1846 by a Danish physician, Peter Panum, during an epidemic in the Faroe Islands. The viral nature of this disease was demonstrated in 1911 and the virus was identified in 1954 by Thomas Peebles and John Enders.

Who is above the surgeon general? ›

The surgeon general reports to the assistant secretary for health (ASH). The ASH may be a four-star admiral in the commissioned corps, and serves as the principal advisor to the secretary of health and human services on public health and scientific issues.

Is the surgeon general actually a surgeon? ›

The US Surgeon General is a government title, based on military tradition. It carries no medical responsibilities and there is no requirement to be a physician. It is a third tier political appointment position, under the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Assistant Secretary for Public Health.

Has there ever been a female Surgeon General? ›

Antonia Novello, M.D., was both the first woman and the first Hispanic to serve as U.S. Surgeon General. When she left her post in 1993, she was praised by President Bill Clinton for her "vigor and talent." At birth, Dr. Novello was diagnosed with congenital megacolon.

What rank are most military doctors? ›

Commissioning + Rank

If you enter as a licensed physician, your rank will typically begin at captain or major (Army/Air Force) or lieutenant or lieutenant commander (Navy), but it may be higher depending on where you are in your civilian career.

What is the U.S. Surgeon General's salary? ›

What is the average salary for a Surgeon General at Us Department Of Health And Human Services in the United States? Based on our data, it appears that the optimal compensation range for a Surgeon General at Us Department Of Health And Human Services is between $450,793 and $625,725, with an average salary of $530,944.

What is the US Surgeon General's salary? ›

What is the average salary for a Surgeon General at Us Department Of Health And Human Services in the United States? Based on our data, it appears that the optimal compensation range for a Surgeon General at Us Department Of Health And Human Services is between $450,793 and $625,725, with an average salary of $530,944.

How much does a chief of surgery make in Florida? ›


What state pays general surgeons the most? ›

Top 25 states for surgeon pay
RankStateAverage hourly wage
1North Dakota$172.70
2Rhode Island$171.48
3South Carolina$171.43
21 more rows
Sep 14, 2022

Who gets paid most neurosurgeon or General Surgeon? ›

MGMA reports that their salary survey revealed neurosurgeons as the highest-paid position in the medical industry. They earn $875,626 per year. Not even orthopedic surgeons earn a higher salary than neurosurgeons.

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