Democrats walk out on Florida's top doctor, Gov. Ron DeSantis reignites fight with White House

State shuts down monoclonal antibody treatment sites
Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 17:54:21-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Democrats walked out on Florida's top doctor, Gov. Ron DeSantis renewed his fight with the White House and a 15-week abortion ban crept closer to law.

It was another consequential and controversial week in Tallahassee. Here's a recap of what happened:

The FDA cut access to two of three monoclonal antibodies on Monday. Recent research, even the makers of the COVID-19 treatments, agreed that they don't work against the omicron variant.

During a recent interview with Ian Sams, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal official said the government won't back something without a medical benefit.

Ian Sams, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Ian Sams shares why the federal government rescinded the use of some monoclonal antibody treatments.

"We do have so many options that do work," said Sams. "It's important that people continue to use those as opposed to ones we know are ineffective."

The state shut down its treatment sites as a result of the decision. The governor, who made monoclonals a cornerstone of his COVID-19 response, labeled the change "reckless."

He's since fumed at press conferences around the state. His ire was pointed at the president.

"This decision was made without clinical data and without any advance warning to states and medical providers, leaving sick Floridians scrambling to find an alternative treatment," DeSantis said. "Thousands of Floridians, who were already in the system and waiting to get treatment, woke up to an email saying that these treatments were now prohibited."

Speaking of frustration, Senate Democrats stormed out of a confirmation hearing Wednesday for new surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo.

Sen. Lauren Book, the chamber's minority leader, and colleagues refused to participate in the vote. They said the governor's pick for the top doctor wasn't straightforward with answers to their questions.

"Yes or no, do vaccines work," Book said. "Yes or no, do masks work. Yes or no, do you regret the way you treated our colleague … We believe, our colleagues believe, that this was a disrespect to the Senate."

The GOP majority still advanced the doctor to his final committee stop. Ladapo defended his answers, saying binary questions are hard to find in science.

"My goal was to accurately answer their questions, and I think I fulfilled that goal," he said.

Protesters also briefly halted the discussion of Florida's 15-week abortion ban Thursday evening. Officials had to clear the room before continuing. Republicans eventually pushed HB 5 through to its final House committee. Democrats remained opposed.

Finally, the Florida Senate passed several bills off the floor, sending them to the House. They include:

  • Making strawberry shortcake as the state dessert with a Florida dairy topping  
  • Rules that cities and counties analyze business impact before enacting some ordinances
  • A controversial bill allowing certain businesses to seek damages if a local ordinance cuts income by 15% or more

Lawmakers return to the capitol on Monday for week four of Florida's 60-day legislative session.