KEY POINTS

  • Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo was scheduled to meet Sen. Tina Polsky on Wednesday
  • He refused to wear a mask at the office of the senator
  • Ladapo did not specify why he did not want to wear a mask

A top Florida health official was asked to leave a meeting with a senator for refusing to wear a mask.

Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo had requested to have a meeting with Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Fla., on Wednesday, Florida Politics reported. When he and two aides arrived at the senator's office, they were offered masks. But the health official reportedly refused to wear it.

The senator was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in August. Sen. Polsky had not made her cancer diagnosis public, but told Ladapo that she had a "serious medical condition," AP reported. In response, Ladapo offered to have the meeting outside instead, but Polsky declined the offer.

When asked why he did not want to wear a mask, Ladapo reportedly smiled and did not respond.

"And I told him several times, 'I have this very serious medical condition.' And he said, 'That's OK,' like it basically has nothing to do with what we are talking about," Polsky said, Florida Politics reported.

Eventually, Ladapo was asked to leave the senator's office.

COVID-19 symptoms can vary widely, with some people showing no symptoms at all while others can become very sick. Some people are more at risk than others to develop more dangerous symptoms. This includes older adults, as well as those with lung problems, diabetes and cancer.

Furthermore, there is also a chance that cancer therapy can make vaccine responses "less robust," the National Institutes of Health (NIH) noted.

Polsky is reportedly scheduled to begin her radiation therapy treatment for cancer "next week" and is taking all possible precautions against COVID-19 to prevent any delays in her treatment.

Senate leader Wilton Simpson, R-Fla., sent out a memo about the incident Saturday, requesting people visiting the office to be "respectful." Simpson noted that senators can request social distancing and masking in their offices even though there is no mask mandate in the Senate building.

"It shouldn't take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other's level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic," Simpson said, AP reported. "What occurred in Senator Polsky's office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate."

Weesam Khoury, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, told Florida Politics that she and Ladapo "are saddened to hear about Sen. Polsky's recent diagnosis and wish her well."

Ladapo has been a "vocal opponent" of the mask and vaccine mandates. He wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal in September saying mask wearing "has had, at best, a modest effect on viral transmissions."

Face masks, combined with other preventive measures like physical distancing, hand-washing and getting vaccinated, can help to slow down the transmission of the virus, according to the Mayo Clinic.

face-mask-4986596_1920 Representation. A face mask. Photo: Pixabay