Floridians should not have to wonder if their state government prioritized COVID-19 vaccine distribution to high-income communities and whether the state’s selection of Publix as Florida’s exclusive vaccine distributor in January 2021 was influenced by Publix’s donations to Governor Ron DeSantis’s political action committee just a few weeks earlier. Recent reporting has raised concern about an inequitable and politicized vaccine distribution in Florida, and the public deserves answers.
CREW has requested communications, calendar entries, and all other records from Governor DeSantis’ office regarding Publix and vaccine distribution. CREW has also requested records reflecting any plans for efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines specifically to Florida communities with high populations of Black, Latino, historically underserved, or low-income residents, as well as records on vaccine distribution to residents of West Palm Beach, Florida.
This wouldn’t be the first time DeSantis and the state of Florida were under scrutiny for questionable responses to the coronavirus. Earlier during the pandemic, DeSantis faced criticism when he designated an organization with close Trump ties, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), as an essential service. Later, news that the RNC would be moved to Jacksonville at the height of the pandemic, despite huge coronavirus risks, brought Florida again into the public eye. If special interests and campaign funds are affecting Florida’s coronavirus vaccine rollout and if Florida failed to prioritize historically underserved communities in the rollout, the public at the very least deserves to know what happened