Democratic members of Florida’s congressional delegation hammered Gov. Ron DeSantis Thursday, arguing the state has dropped the ball on the COVID-19 distribution effort.
Florida’s vaccine rollout has become a political battle with DeSantis, a Republican, leading the state and Democratic President Joe Biden now leading vaccine disbursement at the federal level.
That has led to repeated finger-pointing between the state and federal government as many seniors have struggled to secure a reliable vaccine appointment. On Thursday, three members of the Democratic delegation placed primary blame on the Republican administration.
“For nearly a year, DeSantis knew that this crucial moment was coming,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.
“It’s not like we didn’t know that we had to prepare to vaccinate everyone in our state. But his initial launch has been marked by widespread chaos, confusion and frustration.”
Florida has hit several bumps in the road during the vaccine rollout. The state has had some messaging snags as well, such as DeSantis prematurely marking Florida’s 1 millionth vaccination.
DeSantis has pushed the feds to increase the shipment of shots to the state to help secure more appointments for seniors and frontline health care workers.
“The White House says Florida has all these doses,” DeSantis said, referring to Florida’s stockpile. “These are second doses! We should give away people’s second doses? I think seniors in Florida who have gotten their first shot want to complete the regimen.”
Wasserman Schultz rejected that argument Thursday.
“We knew that shortages could be the case, given the national and global demand for vaccines. But our older residents and frontline workers need some idea as to when, where and how they can get a shot. And it needs to be seamless for their second dose.”
Indeed, many of those follow-up appointments have been delayed in Florida. Delegation members say the state’s decision to stop reporting data on who’s overdue on those shots only added to the confusion.
“The Governor may have been well-intentioned when he made seniors over 65 our priority, but he did it without a realistic plan and one that is ethically challenged,” argued Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida’s 21st Congressional District.
Added Wasserman Schultz, “DeSantis is creating, basically, a vaccine dartboard that is hit-or-miss for people desperately searching for a vaccine appointment.”
Rep. Ted Deutch, who serves Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, took a more measured tone in his criticism, but still argued the state needed to do better.
“This isn’t (the) time to beat up the Governor. We want to fix this,” Deutch said.
“We need a system that makes it easier on the people in Florida to simply raise their hand and say, ‘I am ready to get my vaccine,’ and for them to know where to stand in the line, when they’ll get an appointment and where they can go to get it.”
Specifically, he called for the Governor’s administration to hold more regular briefings with other elected officials, and to release a comprehensive vaccine plan to the public.
“There continues to be so much confusion,” Deutch added. “We need more information. We need clarity. We need transparency.”
The members also joined criticism of the Governor for turning much of the shots in Palm Beach County over to Publix. The lawmakers welcomed a partnership with Publix, but argued local officials should be more involved in the vaccine allocation.
“Black and Hispanic communities have far less initial access to these shots than more affluent and White communities,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“And as anyone in Florida knows, Publix generally serves more affluent, whiter communities. So this particular strategy will likely only make things worse in minority communities or communities of color. That’s the last thing we want when it’s these very communities that have been hit the hardest by this deadly virus.”
Wasserman Schultz also argued that any confusion about securing appointments could leave seniors vulnerable to scams.
“Make no mistake, when confusion surrounds this vaccine rollout, scam artists — who are already in the process of preying on our seniors — will end up having desperate elderly victims,” Wasserman Schultz argued.
“DeSantis is basically rolling out the red carpet for them.”
James Robert Miles
January 28, 2021 at 1:46 pm
DeSatan has done a horrible job with the vaccine distribution. We know that Publix made a major contribution the his campaign so perhaps they own him. Putting all the vaccines at one group of stores while Walgreens and CVS have many more stores than Publix is pure insanity plain and simple! Many more people will die because of DeSatan’s incompetence. Incompetence seems to be a GOP (group of pirates) trait!!
January 29, 2021 at 3:41 am
As people die we are having to listen to Duffus Desantis bs excuses! Fact: Duffus Desantis took vaccines from old, poor, black And brown folks and gave them to Publix! Publix is a racist organization. Publix is located in white upper middle class neighborhoods! Duffus Desantis has also been dancing around the lies of the goptrump death cult leader Trump! But now that mess is being cleaned up and Duffus is trying to place blame on 10 days of Biden administration clean up! Stop! Tell the damn Truth Duffus Desantis!
January 29, 2021 at 11:44 am
So, this is our morning with Covid vaccine availability in Florida, both my husband and I are over 70, he has pre-existing conditions that would make the odds of survival pretty difficult. We set the alarm for 5:30 am to get on our computers at 6AM sharp, we have all of the closest counties listed, so we shoot for anywhere in a 2 hour drive. We wait for the Publix vaccine lottery to open up, then we watch the various counties listed as they count down.. we wait, we wait, today we waited until every county was “fully booked”. The next available time slot published by Publix, we do it again. We also do the marathon call to a secondary site for Covid vaccines which usually starts at 9AM and lasts for about 12 minutes – then start all over again. Once a week we let our kids and grandkids know, no hug from Grammy, yet. we tell them we will stay safe and we love them.
January 29, 2021 at 1:23 pm
Ryan Nichol, what kind of a **it disturber would write a story like this. Desantis can’t get vaccine and he’s supposed to somehow give everyone a shot but he cant get enough vaccine but he’s supposed to give everyone a shot. You are the worst writer. I can’t believe someone would even print a story by you ever again
January 29, 2021 at 5:04 pm
Did you bother to ask why a passel of federal legislators are spending their breath talking about a state administrator? Maybe it was to generate cheap headlines and show their party faithful that they are willing to take on a popular Republican? Ummmm, could be!
Barry T Reinitz
January 30, 2021 at 9:58 am
It has been reported that over a million shots are unaccounted for and DiSantis will not allow our state’s top public health official answer a single question about the states so called system. Rumors swirl that out of state people with enough money can come here and get their vaccine even if they are NOT in the first or second group which could explain the difference. DiSantis has not been trustworthy about the entire epidemic from the beginning including firing the woman who reported the numbers because she wouldnt change the numbers for him to look good. Then sending the state police to raid her home. HE is a thug and a con and probably stealing doses for his own benefit. I am 65 with underlying health concerns and dont see anyway to get the vaccine in ORLANDO as all the shots seem to be in south Florida. I am not healthy enough to spend all day on the computer trying to book a shot in three or four counties like my older sister has done. HE should resign but we all know he and Rick Scott and Mark Rubio all want to be our next president. GOD help us if any of these crooks wins
January 31, 2021 at 1:44 pm
I live in the panhandle of Florida. it’s a no-brainer the way desantis is trying to run the vaccine IT’S A TOTAL FAILURE…what’s new from this governor failure from beginning. if he’s not a 1 term there’s never been one!!
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