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The Villages
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Developer-linked Villagers receive COVID-19 vaccines during DeSantis press conference

On the day when Gov. Ron DeSantis staged a press event in The Villages that saw five residents with strong ties to the Developer and local government get COVID-19 vaccines, the number of new cases of the deadly virus in the local community made another huge jump.

Steve Printz, left, who was recently ousted by voters from the Sumter County Commission, receives a COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday during a press event that was staged by Gov. Ron DeSantis at UF Health The Villages Hospital. Peter Moeller, who serves as chairman of the Project Wide Advisory Committee and is a Community Development District 6 supervisor, looks on as he awaits his vaccine.
Rich Cole, a longtime leader in the local GOP, gets a COVID-19 vaccine during Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press conference in The Villages on Tuesday. Cole also serves as head of The Villages Amputee Support group.

DeSantis made a return visit to The Villages for a press conference at UF Health The Villages Hospital to promise that elderly residents across the state will soon be getting COVID-19 vaccinations. He said a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee had over the weekend recommended that younger essential workers get placed ahead of elderly Floridians in the vaccine line – something he won’t stand for in the Sunshine State.

“Let me just be very, very clear. Our vaccines are going to be targeted for our elderly population,” he promised. “As we get into the general community, the vaccines are going to be targeted where the risk is the greatest, and that is in our elderly population, we are not going to put young healthy workers ahead of our elderly vulnerable population.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis watches Villager Doug Tharp get a COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference at UF Health The Villages Hospital on Tuesday. Tharp is a former Villages Homeowners Association president who currently serves on the Village Center Community Development District Board of Supervisors.

DeSantis then stood by as the five Villagers and some UF Health employees received the vaccinations. The local residents with ties to The Villages Developer who were inoculated included:

  • Steve Printz, who voters recently ousted from the Sumter County Commission;
  • Diane Spencer, a director on the North Sumter County Utility Dependent District Board;
  • Peter Moeller, chairman of the Project Wide Advisory Committee and a Community Development District 6 supervisor;
  • Rich Cole, a Republican Party leader and head of The Villages Amputee Support group; and
  • Doug Tharp, who serves on the Village Center Community Development District Board of Supervisors and is a former president of The Villages Homeowners Association.

Meanwhile, two more local residents lost their battle with COVID-19 – one from Sumter County and the other from Marion County. They were among the 839 fatalities in the tri-county area, the 21,052 deaths in Florida and the 321,698 across the country.

Locally, 170 new COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday in and around The Villages for a total of 7,746. Those include:

  • The Villages (Sumter, Lake and Marion counties) up 80 for a total of 1,930;
  • Summerfield up 21 for a total of 903;
  • Leesburg up 20 for a total of 2,191;
  • Wildwood up 11 for a total of 625;
  • Lady Lake up 11 for a total of 761;
  • Oxford up 9 for a total of 253;
  • Belleview up 7 for a total of 641;
  • Fruitland Park up 5 for a total of 364; and
  • Lady Lake portion of Sumter County up 6 for a total of 78.

Below is a breakdown of other COVID-19 activity in the local area:


  • Cases: 34,694 – increase of 485
  • Deaths: 839
  • Hospitalizations: 2,601


  • Cases: 4,534 – increase of 113
  • Deaths: 116
  • Hospitalizations: 366
  • Areas/cities with most cases: The Villages (1,789), Coleman (729), Wildwood (625), Bushnell (506) and Oxford (253).


  • Cases: 13,863 – increase of 165
  • Deaths: 286
  • Hospitalizations: 958
  • Cities with most cases: Clermont (3,681), Leesburg (2,191), Eustis (1,114), Tavares (1,079) and Mount Dora (1,077). The Villages also is reporting 83 cases.


  • Cases: 16,297 – increase of 207
  • Deaths: 437
  • Hospitalizations: 1,277
  • Cities with most cases: Ocala (12,315), Summerfield (903), Dunnellon (689), Belleview (641) and Citra (282). The Villages also is reporting 58 cases.

All told, Florida is reporting 1,223,015 cases – an increase of 10,434 from Monday to Tuesday. Of those, 1,202,660 are residents. A total of 62,151 cases have been reported in long-term care centers and 26,872 in correctional facilities. Across the state, there have been 21,052 deaths and 60,471 people have been hospitalized.

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