Publix grocery chain pharmacies in Florida had been chosen to distribute nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 vaccines within the state weeks after the corporate donated $100,000 to a PAC supporting GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, “60 Minutes” reported Sunday.
The cash path was one in every of a number of linking rich supporters of DeSantis to particular vaccine entry, whether or not it was a greenlight to spice up enterprise as a vaccine supplier, or particular entry to getting the photographs.
In one other instance, the rich Republican metropolis of Palm Beach was given 1,000 vaccine doses from an early, limited supply, the TV information present reported. Plenty of communities of shade within the county, in the meantime, lagged far behind in entry to the vaccines as Publix, the state’s largest grocery store chain, was allowed to determine by itself the place to focus its efforts to distribute the vaccinations.
Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi in contrast the scenario to a free-for-all “Hunger Games,” with determined Floridians scrambling for vaccinations and rich GOP contributors nearly at all times popping out on high.
The story constructed on native media stories about particular entry to vaccines to GOP donors. Those earlier tales triggered a name final month for an investigation into “red carpet vaccine distribution” by state Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, who additionally serves as Florida’s shopper watchdog.
Fried cited stories that included almost every individual over the age of 65 in Ocean Reef Club, a rich Key Largo enclave of GOP contributors, acquired vaccines by the center of January. At the identical time, individuals in many of the remainder of the state had been desperately scrambling to acquire vaccines.
“If this isn’t public corruption, I don’t know what is,” Fried stated at a press conference in early March.
DeSantis and his high well being official vehemently denied the “60 Minutes” report of particular therapy for Republican contributors. Cornered on the Publix contribution, DeSantis repeatedly referred to as it “wrong” and a “fake narrative.”
Florida Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist had one other phrase for it: “Appalling.”
“In Gov. DeSantis’s Florida, money and power rule and everyone else is at the back of the line,” Crist stated in an announcement. “This callous, cruel and compassionless policy makes ‘Hunger Games’ an apt metaphor.”
Publix, which has shops all through the Southeast, on Sunday denied any hyperlink between the corporate’s political contribution and its profitable vaccine contract. It referred to as the suggestion that there’s a connection “irresponsible.”
Florida has had greater than 2 million instances of COVID-19 and close to 34,000 deaths.
The complete “60 Minutes” report on the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida might be seen under.
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