Florida Governor Accused Of ‘Enjoying Politics’ With COVID-19 Vaccine
In Florida, Democrats are criticizing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for saying he allows politics to play a role in distributing COVID-19 vaccines. DeSantis was irritated when interviewed by reporters at a vaccination event near Lakewood Ranch, an upper-age community on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
The vaccination event was the latest in a series of government-sponsored retirement homes. As part of DeSantis’ Seniors First initiative, the COVID-19 vaccine is being made available in Florida to everyone aged 65 and over – an estimated 4.5 million people.
According to the Bradenton Herald, DeSantis reached out to the developer of the Lakewood Ranch community and offered to use it as a site for a vaccination campaign. Working with a county commissioner, the state reserved admissions for residents of two Manatee County zip codes that cover Lakewood Ranch and other affluent communities.
At a news conference, reporters DeSantis asked questions about the perception that he prefers one community over another in a county where vaccinations have lagged behind the rest of the state. DeSantis responded by threatening to take over the state’s vaccine distribution efforts. “If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this,” DeSantis said, “then it’s perfectly fine to take this to counties that want it. We’re totally happy to do that.”
DeSantis said the 3,000 shots made available to residents of Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding communities were in addition to the county’s regular vaccine allocation. Manatee County commissioners expressed concern that the event favored affluent neighborhoods over underserved communities.
Democrats immediately sent out press releases criticizing DeSantis for giving policy to vaccine distribution. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who has proposed challenging DeSantis if he stands for re-election next year, said: “There is no reason why Governor DeSantis should ration vaccines because of political clout. This is worrying and potentially illegal.” State Senator Annette Taddeo said the governor owes an apology to Manatee County’s residents. She said: “Veiled threats should not and cannot be tolerated by any official.” Manny Diaz, the new leader of the Florida Democratic Party, said DeSantis must stop “politics” on vaccine distribution. Diaz said: “It is shameful and inhumane to threaten retaliation and reduced access to vaccines for communities that criticize vaccine adoption because of its problems.”
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