Under fire for siphoning COVID-19 vaccines to a wealthy community tied to big donors, Gov. Ron De Santis totally proved he shows no favoritism by threatening to cut off vaccines to the entire county.
From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
DeSantis is facing questions over his decision to provide seniors living in two of Manatee County’s wealthiest ZIP codes with special access to the vaccine.
The pop-up vaccination site is serving residents of Lakewood Ranch, a planned community in Southwest Florida with family ties to Liz and Dick Uihlein. The New York Times dubbed the pair “the most powerful conservative couple you’ve never heard of.”
The couple’s list of political contributions includes $900,000 Dick Uihlein gave to DeSantis’ political committee in 2018 and 2019
De Santis was criticized by both Republican and Democratic local officials. Republican Manatee County Commissioner Misty Servia said, “You're taking the Whitest demographic, the richest demographic in Manatee County and putting them ahead of everyone else." She called the optics “very bad.”
De Santis responded by threatening to pull all the vaccinations from the county. CNN reported his response at a Wednesday news conference when asked about the matter:
“If Manatee County doesn't like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it," DeSantis said.
"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," he also repeated later in the news conference.
Because nothing shows you don’t play favorites like threatening your critics with taking away vaccines during a pandemic.
This is not the first time De Santis has been criticized for prioritizing wealthy White donors. On January 31, The Palm Beach Post blasted his decision to cut out local officials from the decision-making process and route all vaccines in Palm Beach County through the Publix supermarket chain, which generally does not serve poor, rural communities, where the need is greater.
DeSantis has not fully explained why he chose the all-Publix route for Palm Beach County nor said how much Publix will receive for the contract. His office is adamant that the decision had nothing to do with Publix donating $100,000 to the political action committee Friends of Ron DeSantis.
Yet let it be noted that Walgreens made just one $25,000 contribution to the governor’s PAC, in February of 2020. CVS is not on the PAC’s list of contributors. Either pharmacy chain, overlooked by the governor, has more stores in Florida than Publix. And either one is easier for poorer people to reach.