Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touted his “Seniors First” COVID-19 vaccination plan during a visit to The Villages on Tuesday while also vowing to get tough with any rioters who might target the State Capitol Building like those in Washington, D.C. last week.
DeSantis spoke at a makeshift drive-through vaccination site in an empty field behind Red Lobster at Buffalo Ridge Plaza that caused mass confusion a day earlier among residents who are desperate to get the inoculations. Issues arose among residents after The Villages Daily Sun promoted the clinic that’s being operated by Global Medical Response and the company’s online signup site asked for Social Security numbers and insurance information, causing fears that it might be some type of scam.
During his short visit to the mega-retirement community, DeSantis bragged about how Florida had made the decision early on to make vaccinating seniors 65 and older a top priority. He pointed out that the Department of Health and Human Services is now encouraging other states to follow Florida’s lead.
“The fact of the matter is, putting seniors first was the right decision,” said the governor, who was flanked by maskless Villages Vice President of Community Relations Gary Lester during the press conference. “If you look at Florida in terms of the number of shots that we have for senior citizens, we are leading the country by a country mile on this.”
DeSantis also touted the fact that Florida didn’t follow initial guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding vaccinations.
“It would have allowed a 20-year-old healthy worker to get a vaccine before a 74-year-old grandmother or grandparent,” he said. “That does not recognize how this virus has affected elderly people.”
DeSantis also addressed the violent protests on the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 as Congress was certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November presidential election. The protesters were largely supporters of President Trump – a huge DeSantis ally – who has come under intense fire for allegedly inciting the riot during a speech earlier in the day.
DeSantis said the kind of violence that took place in our nation’s capital won’t be tolerated in Tallahassee.
“If anything is disorderly, we are going to act very quickly,” he promised. “I don’t care why you’re doing it but you’re not doing it here. So, if there’s any type of disorder, we will have the reinforcements there.”
DeSantis also promised that legislation will pass that carries stiffer penalties for those who riot and cause violent disturbances.
“If you assault law enforcement in a violent assembly, you’re going to definitely go to jail,” he said. “Penalties are going to be very swift and immediate.”
DeSantis added that he’s glad to see some of those who stormed the Capitol Building being arrested and prosecuted.
“Those folks who took it to the violent level, they need to be held accountable,” he said. “It’s just unacceptable to do that and it was really a sad thing to see. But I think the prosecutions will really make a difference.”