Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis suggested Wednesday that he would divert COVID-19 vaccines from communities that criticize his distribution methods, after he was accused of targeting the “whitest and richest” ZIP codes to receive the shot.
“Anyone in Manatee [County], if they don’t want us doing it, then just tell us, and we’ll make sure that we send those doses to folks who want it,” DeSantis said during a press conference.
“We are totally fine putting this in counties that want it. We’re totally happy to do that,” he added.
Unforced error? Famously combative with media, @GovRonDeSantis today says public criticisms about vaccine distribution in parts of Florida could divert vaccines to areas where there are no political criticisms of his efforts https://t.co/jqETqNjI9T pic.twitter.com/Idy4mfTJdk— Ted Bridis (@tbridis) February 17, 2021
DeSantis’ remarks were in response to criticism after he opened up an exclusive vaccination center in Lakewood Ranch, a wealthy retirement community on Florida’s Gulf coast.
The new site, which is located in Manatee County, is one of 15 pop-ups that the state has chosen to create as part of DeSantis’ goal to focus inoculation on individuals aged 65 and older.
But only senior citizens living in two of the Lakewood Ranch’s wealthiest ZIP codes will have special access to 3,000 new vaccine doses.
Critics of DeSantis have since accused him of specifically prioritizing wealthy, Republican areas to receive the extra doses.
“For the life of me, I can’t understand why we would vaccinate the most affluent neighborhoods in the county ahead of everyone else, especially the underserved neighborhoods and large number of manufactured home parks in our community,” County Commissioner Misty Servia told the Bradenton Herald on Tuesday.
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