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DeSantis Criticizes School Closures; Vaccine Prioritizations Set

An experimental Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is pictured in July.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases have continued to rise around the state, surpassing one million infections this week. Despite these numbers, Governor Ron DeSantis says Florida schools will stay open for the rest of the year.

He promised remote learning will continue but voiced strong criticism for the decision to close schools earlier this year, calling the decision "probably the biggest public health blunder in modern American history.” He went on to call those who support school closures “today’s flat-earthers.” DeSantis encourages children struggling with distance learning to return to brick and mortar classrooms.

This announcement came as a new investigation alleges the DeSantis administration has been engaging in a spin and concealment pattern about the virus. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports the DeSantis team “suppressed unfavorable facts, dispensed dangerous misinformation, dismissed public health professionals, and promoted the views of scientific dissenters” who supported the governor’s approach to the disease.

Andrew Spar, President, Florida Education Association, joined us with his thoughts on how public schools are directed to operate during the pandemic. Dr. Maria Vazquez, Deputy Superintendent, Orange County Public Schools, told us more about Orange County’s experiences.

Vaccine Prioritization

COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, but recommendations on who receives the injections first are changing.

Next week, an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to consider whether to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use. This week, a separate advisory panel recommended who should get priority when the first vaccine is approved.

DeSantis explained that Florida would prioritize vaccinations for residents in long-term care facilities, followed by health care workers in high-risk, high-contact environments. The third group will be seniors and those with significant comorbidities.

Dr. Jason Goldman, the American College of Physicians liaison to Centers for Disease Control advisory committee on immunization practices, and past Governor of the Florida Chapter of the American College of Physicians Florida Chapter, shared his thoughts on the Governor’s prioritization. Jason Hand, the VP of Public Policy & Legal Affairs for Florida Senior Living Association, also spoke with us about senior citizens’ responses.

Katherine Hobbs was Associate Producer of talk shows at WJCT until 2022.