Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis after he announced a boost in vaccines for Manatee County, but not for any of her constituents.
“Governor DeSantis has made a choice to prioritize affluent neighborhoods in Manatee County over our underserved populations knowing the numbers are criminally low when it comes to equitable distribution of this vaccine,” the St. Petersburg Democrat said. “Today, DeSantis doubled down on his decision and added that efforts would go to areas where his leadership isn’t being criticized.”
“This is not the time to score political points while people are dying. It is time to take a sobering look at the numbers that have been released and act accordingly to bring aid to all Floridians.”
Within Manatee County, 28.1% of the residents, or more than 113,000 people, are older than 65, according to the most recent Census estimates. Meanwhile, 86% of county residents are White, 9.3% are Black and 16.9% are Hispanic.
But of the 43,405 individuals vaccinated so far in the county, 31,067 are White, or 71.6%. Just 793 are Black, or 1.8%, and 1,077, or 2.5%, are Hispanic.
The community pod, set up through Lakewood Ranch developer Rex Jensen with help from Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, has generated uproar even in the heavily Republican county. That has worsened amid reports Baugh asked vaccines to be reserved for herself, Jensen and three others.
But DeSantis has defended the site, noting the 3,000 shots distributed there will be in addition to the normal inventory of shots sent to the county.
“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, we are totally fine doing this in counties that want it,” he said Wednesday.
He announced a similar community pod in Pinellas Park on Thursday morning to applause from benefitting seniors.