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Florida's Surgeon General, Inequities In Vaccination, And Afghan Refugees In South Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis stands behind Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo.
Ryan Dailey
News Service of Florida
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday named physician and researcher Joseph Ladapo as Florida surgeon general.

Joseph Ladapo is Florida's new surgeon general, an outspoken critic of mask mandates and lockdowns. Plus, inequities in Florida's vaccine distribution and a local organization assisting with Afghan refugee resettlement.

This post has been updated

On this Wednesday, Sept. 22, episode of Sundial. 

Florida’s New Surgeon General

Florida has a new surgeon general in its ongoing battle against the coronavirus pandemic. This week, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a medical professor from the University of California Los Angeles, was appointed to the role.

Florida will completely reject fear as a way of making policies in public health. So we are done with fear,” said Ladapo, during a press conference in Tallahassee.

Ladapo has been an outspoken critic of public health measures like mask mandates and mandatory lockdowns to slow the spread of COVID-19. He replaced Surgeon General Scott Rivkees who stepped down from his post — after just a few years with the DeSantis administration.

Beyond COVID there are other public health issues facing the new state surgeon general.

“We’ve got a hepatitis problem in parts of Florida. There’s gonna be mosquito borne illnesses, the aftermath of hurricanes that put a strain on our health system. And there are still billions of dollars of federal aid that hasn’t been tapped yet.” said Jeffrey Schweers, the capital bureau reporter for the USA Today Network in Florida.

2021-09-22 SUNDIAL Seg A .mp3

Inequities in Vaccine Distribution

The coronavirus pandemic has both illuminated and exacerbated the disparity in healthcare treatment across racial lines in this country. For much of the past year, Health News Florida's Stephanie Colombini and Kerry Sheridan have been reporting on how the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the inequities in Florida’s healthcare system. It’s an ongoing series called Unequal Shots.

They looked at how the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout revealed an uneven playing field for minority communities. Read more of their reporting here.

2021-09-22 SUNDIAL Seg B.mp3

Afghan Refugee

South Florida is getting ready to welcome refugees who have fled Afghanistan. It’s been a month since the Taliban took control of the country as the U.S. prepared to withdraw.

The Refugee Assistance Alliance is a local organization focused on helping Middle Eastern, Asian and African refugees navigate their new life in South Florida. They recently received a prestigious grant to expand their services and welcome new families.

“Language is a huge component of it. But even more than that they need a friend and neighbor that will help them navigate life here. They don’t get a road map of how to navigate life in the U.S,” said Kristen Bloom, the organization’s executive director.

The organization expects to begin welcoming Afghan refugees within the coming months. It’s unclear how many will be resettling in South Florida though estimates are in the hundreds.

2021-09-22 SUNDIAL Seg C.mp3

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.