Florida’s controversial new surgeon general has moved quickly to change state coronavirus policies, issuing an emergency rule Wednesday dropping the requirement for public school students exposed to Covid-19 to stay off campus for at least four days.
The new rule, issued by Dr. Joseph Ladapo, states that it is up to parents to decide whether their children should quarantine.
Previously, four days off campus and a negative test were required for students to return to school, or seven days away from campus without a test, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Students still must be asymptomatic if they are to return to school after being exposed.
The order first appeared in a court filing Wednesday, where a state judge dropped a challenge to Florida’s mask mandate ban in schools.
The emergency rule represents one of Ladapo’s first actions as state surgeon general after being appointed to the post by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday. The choice of Ladapo to replace Dr. Scott Rivkees as surgeon general was a highly controversial one, given the Harvard-trained doctor’s statements against Covid restrictions. In an April opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, Ladapo argued that taking children out of school is a danger to public health and that massive societal concerns about the pandemic amounted to “Covid mania.” At his introductory news conference Tuesday, Ladapo also said of vaccines: “There is nothing special about them compared to any other preventative measure,” likening getting vaccinated to actions like eating fruits and vegetables to prevent disease.
What To Watch For
Covid infections in Florida surged to the highest levels yet last month, but new cases and hospitalizations are now on a rapid decline. The state is still averaging more than 350 deaths a day, though, and is regularly setting new records for death counts. Trends in Covid deaths tend to lag weeks behind changes in cases and hospitalizations.
Over the past few months, DeSantis has aggressively worked to prohibit broad, public Covid restrictions. One of his most notable moves was banning mask mandates in schools, leading several school districts in Democratic-leaning parts of the state to enact mandates on their own, despite DeSantis’ order and subsequent court rulings clearly not allowing for such mandates.
An American Epidemic of ‘Covid Mania’ (The Wall Street Journal)