Statewide COVID-19 Response; Fallout From U.S. Capitol Insurrection

Jan 15, 2021

Florida leaders say they are working hard to vaccinate seniors and other residents, but the state's pandemic response has come under criticism. In turn, Florida officials are pointing fingers at the federal government over a slowdown in the supply of vaccines.

In addition to the vaccine supply issues, the rollout has been plagued by technical glitches, as a high volume of residents try to book appointments through the state online and over the phone.

State Senator Jeff BrandesR-District 24, of Pinellas County, is a member of the Select Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, which met for the first time on Thursday. He joined us on the show to discuss the statewide COVID-19 response.

AARP Florida Director Jeff Johnson issued a statement on January 6 calling for government transparency surrounding vaccine distribution. In part, it read:

“‘We are hearing very strong concerns from our members and all older Floridians.  Too many older people are frustrated by their inability to understand when and where they can get vaccinated.  And in some communities, a long history of systemic discrimination has left trust in tatters. This is jeopardizing the effectiveness of a brilliant scientific success in developing the vaccines,” Johnson said.

More sites opened across the state this week to vaccinate Florida residents, but demand remains high and the vaccine is in short supply.

As of Wednesday, just over 700,000 Floridians had received their first vaccine dose. That’s two out of every three residents over 65 years old, which is the priority group established under Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order.

According to the latest data from the State Department of Health, fewer people have been vaccinated this week compared to last week. 

Johnson joined us to discuss the AARP’s statement and other issues surrounding the vaccination process.

Fallout From Last Week’s Insurrection At The US Capitol

As President Donald Trump prepares to leave office next week, the FBI is preparing for the potential of more right-wing protests at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. The FBI hasn't reported any specific threats, but are remaining vigilant in the wake of last week’s deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building.

This comes a week after the deadly insurrection of the U.S. Capitol Building and this week’s House impeachment of President Trump. No Florida Republicans supported the Article of Impeachment, and several members of the state’s Congressional delegation voted against accepting some of the Electoral College votes.

WFSU Public Media News Director Lynn Hatter joined us from Tallahassee, where preparations are underway should Florida see a repeat of what happened in Washington D.C.

Orlando Sentinel Opinion Editor Mike Lafferty also joined us with his thoughts on the riots, the impeachment vote, and the resulting fallout here in Florida.

Katherine Hobbs can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.