Vice President Harris Visits Jacksonville, Emphasizing Importance Of Getting Vaccinated

Mar 22, 2021

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Jacksonville Monday afternoon.

Harris departed Washington, D.C., landing at Jacksonville International Airport at 1:39 p.m., according to the White House. 

Congressman Al Lawson (D-FL5), Mayor Lenny Curry (R-Jacksonville) and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D-FL) and FEMA regional lead Bob Spence were on hand to greet her as she stepped off Air Force Two. 

Speaking to reporters shortly after arriving, Harris praised the state of Florida for lowering the age to get a coronavirus vaccination to 50. "I’m here to emphasize the importance of vaccinations and getting the vaccine.  You know, when it’s your turn, you got to get it," she said.

Related: Vice President Harris Addresses Food Insecurity During Jacksonville Visit

She then headed to the FEMA-run Gateway Town Center vaccination center, according to WJCT News partner News4Jax.com

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried talks about the difficulty many Floridians have accessing nutritious food at Feeding Northeast Florida in Jacksonville as Vice President Kamala Harris listens Monday afternoon.
Credit Sydney Boles / WJCT News

The vaccination site visit was followed by a listening session that Vice President Harris took part in with Florida leaders at Feeding Northeast Florida

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried told the vice president that 40% of black families and 39% of Hispanic families in the area are experiencing chronic hunger.  Harris responded, saying that "the work that we did on the American Rescue Plan was designed with you mind."

Feeding Northeast Florida is the region's largest nonprofit food bank and hunger relief network. The agency addresses food insecurity, poverty, and poor health by providing nutritious foods and other essential goods to those in need in collaboration with community partners.

The vice president boarded Air Force Two at 5:54 p.m. to depart Jacksonville, according to the White House.

Monday afternoon the Duval County Democratic Party issued a statement welcoming Harris to Jacksonville, saying the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will have the following impacts on Jacksonville and Florida:

  • Over 10 million Florida households are going to receive stimulus payments of $1,400.
  • The American Rescue Plan will provide over $10 billion to Florida state government and $187 million to the city of Jacksonville, in state and local funding.
  • The plan will provide $111.7 million to 4 Jacksonville colleges (EWC, FSCJ, JU, UNF) for student financial aid and services.
  • The plan more than doubles the weekly unemployment benefits for the average Floridian, with a $300 enhancement included in the weekly benefit.
  • The stimulus also expands the Child Tax Credit which will benefit over 3.8 million children in Florida, which the Democratric Party said will lift hundreds of thousands of Florida children out of poverty altogether
  • The bill will offer Floridians over $1.1 billion in rental assistance.
  • Over $2.3 Billion in FEMA funding will help provide more vaccine access to more Floridians, more quickly.

Harris and President Joe Biden have been traveling the country to promote the administration’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is already making plans for Florida’s share of the stimulus money. Tuesday he pitched plans to use nearly half of the money coming to Florida from a federal stimulus package to bulk up infrastructure, bolster efforts to fight rising sea levels, fix the troubled unemployment system and provide first responders with $1,000 bonuses for their work during the past year.

DeSantis on Tuesday outlined $4.1 billion in spending he’s proposed to House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson for the current and next fiscal years. Money also would go toward issues such as boosting state tourism marketing efforts and bringing in new recruits to the Florida National Guard.

The governor’s proposal Tuesday is intended to address a portion of the $9 billion to $10 billion that the state expects to receive from the $1.9 trillion relief package that President Biden signed earlier this month.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.