60 Minutes Confronts DeSantis on Publix Vaccine Deal

Fla. governor denies 'pay to play' deal for chain after $100K campaign donation
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2021 8:49 AM CDT
DeSantis Blasts 60 Minutes Report on Fla. 'Pay to Play' Vaccines
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is seen during a news conference on Sunday in Palmetto, Fla.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Florida's reservoir emergency isn't the only reason the state's governor is finding himself in headlines again. Sunday night's episode of 60 Minutes featured a report by Sharyn Alfonsi, which criticized vaccine rollouts in the Sunshine State under Ron DeSantis, per the Hill. The report specifically looked at Palm Beach County over the past three months, where vaccination distribution "[deteriorated] into a virtual free for all and ... some wealthy and well-connected residents cut the line, leaving other Floridians without a fair shot," per CBS News, with Alfonsi adding it sounded like The Hunger Games. The outlet notes Palm Beach County is home not only to the very rich, but also to a significant contingent of low-income residents and people of color, and that these groups have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to vaccinations. Per state data as of Feb. 1, of the county's 160,000 residents who'd been vaccinated, only 2% were Black, while 3% were Hispanic.

At the center of Alfonsi's report: the revelation that Publix was awarded a contract in January by DeSantis to solely administer the vaccine in the county—after the supermarket chain had donated $100,000 to his political action committee. That meant residents were forced to travel to Publix locations to get their shots, even if those sites were far from home, making it onerous to get the vaccine for those who didn't have cars or other means to get there. Although DeSantis wouldn't be officially interviewed for the report, Alfonsi tracked him down at an Orlando-area presser last month, where she confronted him about Publix, per Axios. "How is that not pay to play?" she asked the governor, who called that framing "wrong" and a "fake narrative," adding he decided to go with Publix only after meeting with local leaders. Publix, for its part, issued its own statement to the news program, calling the suggestion that its contract was tied to its campaign donations as "false," "offensive," and "irresponsible." Much more here from the 60 Minutes report. (Read more Ron DeSantis stories.)

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