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Ron DeSantis Prioritizes the White, Wealthy, and Well-Connected For COVID-19 Vaccines

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was blasted by officials from both parties this week for politicizing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. He’s been accused of directing the state’s limited vaccine supply to his political allies and those in affluent communities, rather than to those who need them the most.

Recently, DeSantis set up a pop-up clinic at Lakewood Ranch, a mostly white, affluent retirement community in Manatee County. Lakewood Ranch’s parent company is a DeSantis campaign donor. DeSantis reportedly struck a deal with the company’s CEO, Rex Jensen, to host a vaccination clinic in Lakewood, provided DeSantis only offer the vaccines to people living in two of the wealthiest zip codes in the county.

Even the Republican County Commissioner saw a problem with that, saying“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.”

Prioritizing vaccines for the white, powerful and wealthy is apparently at the core of DeSantis’ vaccine distribution plan.

The same thing happened in Charlotte County – a pop-up clinic in King’s Gate, a wealthy retirement community, appeared out of nowhere last week, catching county officials off guard. A GOP executive committee member says he suspected people in King’s Gate were allowed to “jump the line” because it was built by Benderson Development and “they swing a heavy hammer in Tallahassee.”

DeSantis said he doesn’t “understand the accusation” that the vaccine distribution is politically-motivated, and threatened to pull vaccines from counties that criticize him.

“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it,” DeSantis said. He added“I wouldn’t be complaining.”

“Apparently, Ron DeSantis’ campaign donors are in Group 1A for vaccines in Florida,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director Christina Amestoy. “It is despicable that DeSantis is purposely directing vaccines towards the wealthy and powerful when he could be vaccinating seniors, teachers, vulnerable populations, and frontline workers. I know Ron DeSantis doesn’t ‘understand,’ but leaders should be making decisions based on what’s best for public health, not their own politics.”