Florida’s Former Surgeon General Takes New Job in Rhode Island – A Democrat-Led State May Suit Him Better

Toby Hazlewood

Scott Rivkees won't be hidden away any longer

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In September 2021, Florida got a new Surgeon General as Dr Joseph Ladapo took up the post - the position came with a $362,000 salary, an increase of $123,000 over his predecessor - Scott Rivkees. The appointment was controversial, but not surprising. Dr Ladapo has since proven that his views on health matters, particularly COVID-19, echo those of Governor DeSantis who appointed him.

On November 26 it was reported that Scott Rivkees has taken up a new position at Brown University in Rhode Island. Presumably he'll feel more comfortable and be appreciated for his skills and knowledge in a Democrat-controlled state than he was in Republican Florida.

Rivkees will join Brown University School of Public Health, contributing his expertise to work on pandemic preparedness.

Rhode Island will be better for Rivkees

Scott Rivkees was famously and publicly pulled out of a press conference after saying that people would probably need to wear masks until a COVID-19 vaccine could be created and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. This message sat in stark contrast to the messages favored by Gov. DeSantis - promising freedom for Floridians from constraints of social distancing and mask wearing.

After being pulled from that meeting and until Dr Ladapo was appointed, Rivkees was barely seen on the public stage. It was a little surprising given the prevalence of public health matters in the last 2 years and reflects that his views simply didn't echo those of the Governor.

He will likely feel much more comfortable, and appreciated in Rhode Island - a state where over 72% of eligible citizens are vaccinated against COVID-19 and there have been less than 3,000 deaths from the virus. This is significantly lower than Florida with just 62% vaccinated and over 61,000 COVID deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Dr Ladapo - the controversial successor Surgeon General

Besides the vast pay rise that Dr Ladapo received compared to Rivkees, he has proved controversial from the start.

  • His Florida medical license - required before he could take up the role - was inexplicably processed and approved within just 2 days - it normally takes up to 6-months to be approved.
  • Before his appointment, he had previously appeared on the steps of the US Supreme Court as part of the controversial group 'America's Frontline Doctors' with a number of other controversial medical professionals, promoting zinc and hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 treatments and undermining the vaccine and masks as preventatives.
  • He's continued to support Gov. DeSantis in discouraging mask and vaccine mandates within the state
  • During a visit with State Senator Tina Polsky, Dr Ladapo and his aides refused a direct request from the Senator to wear masks during their meeting. Senator Polsky was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer in August of this year, and as an immune-compromised person was at greater risk from harm should she contract COVID-19. After he refused the request, the Senator terminated the meeting and asked him to leave.

He has rarely been out of the headlines and while his views echo those of Gov. DeSantis and Florida's Republican leadership, it remains to be seen whether his medical advice will be in the best interests of Florida's citizens as new variants emerge - particularly the 'Nu' variant detected in South Africa this week.

Scott Rivkees is likely to be relieved to start his new job!

What do you think about Florida's appointment of a Surgeon General who is less cautious than his predecessor? Do you feel his leadership in regard to health, is solid? Let me know in the comments section below.

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