TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo slammed the use of cloth masks and the doctors who recommend their use on Thursday.

Ladapo made the comments during a news conference in Panama City, alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis

“It’d be one thing if, when you’re proven right, people would acknowledge it,” Ladapo said. “‘Oh, I’m sorry, you’re right, let’s try to do things better, do you have any other ideas?’ Nope, none of that, it’s just like nothing happened. ‘It’s okay for the kids to take the masks off now. And okay maybe we didn’t have to have the passport. But yeah, that’s the plate we’ve been served.”

Ladapo continued, saying he hoped other lawmakers were watching Florida’s legislature, and that it was important to “have a voice to push back against the abject dishonesty” he said has “deeply” infiltrated the medical and scientific establishments.

“You’d think that my colleagues have been taken over by zombies or something,” Ladapo said. “Given the paucity of physicians and scientists who are willing to be honest. I mean, you have to search very, you know, you’ve gotta search to find them.”

The state surgeon general, officially confirmed to his position by the Florida Senate on Feb. 23, said the doctors and scientists he believes are willing to be honest were still in the minority. He said it was important to have a voice that would explicitly push back when it comes to some health and science beliefs and opinions.

“It is the pathway to truth, you know?” Ladapo said. “If it weren’t for doctors… who were saying something different from the beginning, who knows where we’d be? People would never know the truth. Not everyone went to medical school, not everyone has a Ph.D. in science or research. So how would anyone know they’ve been misled?”

Ladapo said without free speech, there was no path to truth, and truth could not be found without it. Then he pulled out what he called a prop – a cloth mask – from inside his jacket pocket.

“You know, it’s hard to find these in Florida, you’ve gotta look hard. But if you know where to look, you can find them, so I brought this,” Ladapo said. “Unfortunately we have a country right now where most people think these things are saving lives. So in medicine, in science, we have something called levels of evidence.”

He laid out the evidence levels from low to high, with clinical trials at the highest level. Ladapo said to ask doctors who say masks work what the two randomized clinical trials say about masking in relation to COVID-19.

“What did the two randomized clinical trials that we’ve done during the pandemic, what did they show? Ask them that when they tell you that these things save lives,” Ladapo said. “One found nothing, zero benefit. The other found a small benefit, like a tiny benefit that’s a little bit methodologically shaky. And by the way, none of them found a benefit in young people. Not a single one found a benefit in young people. That’s the highest-quality evidence, that’s what it showed.”

Ladapo accused the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of preferring to use lower-quality, “shaky studies, shaky methods” for its data.

“Finding 80% reductions in infections? Give me a break, you know?” Ladapo said. “Nothing that we’re seeing in this country justifies that kind of conclusion. That’s what the evidence shows.”

He said doctors who said masks would not save lives had been kicked off of social media and had licenses suspended because of their criticism of masking and refusal to use them at their medical practices.

“These are facts,” Ladapo said. “That’s crazy – good doctors who were brave enough to say what the science showed got punished. That’s happening and it’s still happening where people are still holding up the illusion that these things save lives. These things are not saving lives. What saves lives, frankly, is freedom to speak, freedom to find truth. What saves lives is immunity, early treatment. Early treatment saves lives. And being as healthy as you can.”

Ladapo said keeping vitamin D levels up, losing weight and eating healthy saved lives, but no quality data said masks saved lives.

“It’s a lie and it needs to stop and people need to un-believe it,” Ladapo said, holding up the mask he’d brought with him, before leaving the podium.