Florida Newspaper Blows Whistle On Ron DeSantis Over Vaccine Rollout


The Tampa Bay Times doesn’t seem impressed with Governor Ron DeSantis’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Florida. Up to the present, Florida has been administering vaccines to people including those 65 and older and health care workers with “direct patient contact,” and DeSantis, a Republican, has said that expansions of vaccine eligibility are on the way — but details beyond this general idea have been scarce. Recently, he said that Florida would expand the age range eligible for vaccinations “sometime in March” — and that’s pretty much it! DeSantis has defended Florida’s lack of a detailed plan for vaccine roll-out, even though the vaccines could literally be a matter of life and death for some.

As the Times put it, directly addressing DeSantis:

‘Good morning, governor. We see that you are taking flak for not having a detailed plan for rolling out more COVID-19 vaccinations. Your “no-plan is a good plan” mantra isn’t playing well in some circles, though in your defense those circles are densely populated with people who would criticize you no matter what you did. We’re on board with keeping the distribution plan simple… But do you have to be so cagey with every scrap of information about your plan? This isn’t spycraft. Giving Floridians a basic understanding of who comes next in the vaccination queue won’t somehow give the virus a leg up, like spilling the details of the D-Day invasion. This isn’t poker where deception is paramount. Show Floridians a few of your cards. They can handle it.’

Florida, like the rest of the country, is struggling through a deadly pandemic, and DeSantis hasn’t even bothered to produce and release a comprehensive plan for the next steps of the state’s vaccine roll-out. Recently, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Florida is “one of only two states to prioritize residents 65 and older in its first phase of distribution, and it’s the only state that hasn’t told residents specifically who will get vaccines after that group” (emphasis added). It’s the only state without a detailed plan for the next stage of vaccine distribution!

The Times added, still addressing DeSantis:

‘It doesn’t help that your communications office too often acts like a black hole, where questions go to never be answered. More recently, you criticized President Joe Biden’s idea of creating more vaccination sites, before rightly coming around to the idea. And the web-based systems for signing up for vaccination appointments have left a lot of seniors screaming for mercy… we don’t need a 100-page treatise on where and how the state plans to distribute the vaccine over the next few months. But give us more than just dribs and drabs.’

One might expect that producing a meaningfully substantive vaccine distribution plan would be a foundational baseline of work. DeSantis, who is an ardent Trump ally, has proven that this expected foundational understanding can’t actually be taken for granted.