Democrats walk out of hearing with Florida's top doctor

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo has moved closer to Senate confirmation after a tense hearing where Democrats accused the state’s top doctor of evading questions on his coronavirus policies and stormed out before casting their votes

“What I hear is arrogance and polite avoidance,” said Sen. Janet Cruz, a Democrat. “So if you wouldn't mind all of this fond rhetoric that you are applying, can we just get straight answers so that more people can hear more information.”

In one exchange, Democratic Sen. Lauren Book repeatedly pressed Ladapo on whether he found coronavirus vaccines to be effective. Ladapo responded: “yes or no questions are not that easy to find in science.”

He continued, “The most commonly used vaccines in the United States, which would be the Pfizer product and the product that was developed by Moderna, have been shown to have relatively high effectiveness for the prevention of hospitalization and death, and over time, relatively low protection from infection," he said.

In another exchange, Book grilled the surgeon general on whether he regretted his decision to refuse a face mask when meeting with a Democratic state lawmaker in October who told him she had a serious medical issue and later revealed a breast cancer diagnosis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cancer patients are at a higher risk to get severely ill from COVID-19 and may not build the same immunity to vaccines.

After several more rounds of back and forth, Book told the committee “we don't feel that we're getting any answers” and said Democrats would leave the room, refusing to vote on Ladapo's confirmation.

After the walkout, Republicans, who control the committee, quickly voted to move the surgeon general's confirmation forward. Ladapo must receive an additional approval from a separate committee and the full Senate before he is officially confirmed.