Florida Gov. Ron DeSants Favors Wealthy Neighborhood In Vaccine Distribution Plan
Manatee County, Florida announced Tuesday that they would be hosting a vaccination center for 3,000 of the county’s residents. Vaccinations, however, are restricted to residents in Manatee’s zip codes 34202 and 34211, two of the most affluent neighborhoods in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is now accused of choosing the zip codes due to political favoritism.
“You’re taking the whitest demographic, the richest demographic in Manatee County and putting them ahead of everyone else. The optics are bad … very bad — I’m really disappointed,” said Misty Servia, Manatee County commissioner.
Board of County Commissioners Chair Vanessa Baugh clarified that the vaccination center “was done strictly by the governor who called Rex Jensen … they wanted to do a pop up session in Lakewood Ranch.” Lakewood Ranch is an extremely wealthy Florida suburb where home prices regularly exceed $1 million.
“It wasn’t a choice about zip codes, it was a choice about where’s a high concentration of seniors where you could have communities provide the ability for them to go on,” said DeSantis at a news conference on Wednesday. The governor followed up his point with a Twitter post later that day showing him without a mask embracing seniors who would be getting the vaccine in Lakewood Ranch.
Thank you again to Vern and Dottie Cummings for opening their home and allowing us to capture Vern receiving his COVID-19 vaccine. Vern and Dottie are great Americans and it’s because of Floridians like them that we are putting #SeniorsFirst. pic.twitter.com/qkJSAKxx3q
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 18, 2021
State Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Florida) said in a subsequent statement, “it’s disgusting and unacceptable for the governor to politicize life-saving vaccines.”
“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it,” DeSantis said at the news conference. “We’re going to look to do more and more with the additional doses but anyone in Manatee, if they don’t want us doing it, then just tell us, and we’ll make sure that that that we send those doses to folks who want it.”
The governor’s comments were quickly criticized by Manny Diaz, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party. “Threatening retribution and less vaccine access for communities that criticize the vaccine roll-out for its problems is shameful and inhumane,” said Diaz. He then demanded that DeSantis “stop playing politics with the vaccine distribution here in Florida.”