Gov. Ron DeSantis touted a COVID-19 vaccination site in Sumter County on Wednesday that was giving the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to seniors while also blasting President Biden’s Coronavirus stimulus package.
DeSantis held an afternoon press conference at the vaccination pod at Lake-Sumter State College, where he announced that those Sumter County seniors were among the first in Florida to receive the one-shot vaccine.
“We reached out to them and said you’ve got the chance to do one-and-done. Are you interested?” DeSantis said. “We actually had a lot of interest.”
DeSantis cited the fact that Sumter County has the most seniors ages 65 and older of any county in Florida – 58 percent – as a reason for bringing the three-day effort to the college, where 1,000 doses are scheduled to be given each day.
The governor also cited the successful vaccination effort in Florida as a reason doses will become available Monday for those ages 60-64.
“A 60-year-old is less at risk than an 80-year-old, but a 60-year-old is more at risk than a 20-year-old,” he said. “So, I think it is important that we’re able to get the 60-64 in.
The governor said Florida has seen a 75 percent decrease in COVID-19 cases among seniors 65 and older since the first week of January, as well as a 75 percent decrease in hospitalizations among seniors since the beginning of February.
“Forty states throughout the country have higher per capita COVID-19 mortality for seniors than the state of Florida,” he said. “Most of those states that have higher senior mortality locked down hard. They closed schools forever – many of them still have a lot of schools closed and high unemployment.”
That led the Republican governor into a short diatribe on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill that was backed by Biden and Democrats in Congress and heavily opposed by GOP lawmakers. The measure passed through the House on Wednesday – it’s final hurdle – and is expected to be signed by Biden on Friday.
“This thing has massive amounts of waste in it,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said Florida is getting penalized in the stimulus bill because federal money isn’t being sent to states on a per capita basis.
“What they’re doing is they’re taking away from states like Florida that have lower unemployment and they’re giving more to states like New York and California that have higher unemployment,” he said. “The problem is they have higher unemployment because they’re not letting people work. It’s through their own policies that you have that. So, I think it’s fundamentally unfair that you penalize Florida for basically doing a better job, and that’s what you’re seeing in that bill.”
The governor added that he expects Florida to receive about $2 billion less as a result of the stimulus package.
“It really does function as a bailout for blue states, poorly managed states,” he said. “If you manage things better, like Florida, then you get penalized. That’s fundamentally unfair.”
Those hoping to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Sumter County site can sign up through the state of Florida sign-up system online at https://myvaccine.fl.gov/ or by phone at 866-201-7196. Global Medical Response is continuing its vaccination activities at St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church in The Villages and the Sumter County Health Department is continuing its mass vaccination efforts at the Wildwood Community Center.