Vaccine Plans for Florida; DeSantis’ COVID-19 Response Under Fire

Nov 20, 2020

As Florida refines its plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, Gov Ron DeSantis is facing criticism for his handling of the pandemic.

Florida could be just weeks from receiving two new vaccines to protect against COVID-19.

On Thursday, DeSantis said he had identified five Florida hospitals willing and able to store and distribute millions of vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.

He said the state has already procured millions of syringes, needles, and alcohol swabs. DeSantis added a vaccine or vaccines could arrive in Florida as early as the end of December.

The governor also announced a new antibody treatment available for coronavirus patients with mild to moderate symptoms. This, as the World Health Organization recommended against the use of the antiviral Remdesivir, which DeSantis previously touted.

Christine Sexton, a health care reporter for the News Service of Florida, joined us with the latest.

We also spoke with journalists Jackie Hajdenberg and Ty Russell, who volunteered with Pfizer and Moderna, respectively, to receive the vaccine (or a placebo) as part of a double-blind study. Hajdenberg is unsure if she received the vaccine or placebo, but Russell said he suspects he received the vaccine, as scientists are looking for more data around people of color’s response to the vaccine.

In the meantime, Florida continues to see an uptick in new infections. This week, mayors across the state spoke with DeSantis on a conference call. They said he is making it hard for them to protect their communities.

One of the mayors calling for more local control of protective measures is Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, who joined us to explain why.

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