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Monday, April 5, 2021

'60 Minutes' compares Florida's COVID-19 vaccine rollout to 'The Hunger Games'

Posted By on Mon, Apr 5, 2021 at 10:39 AM

click to enlarge SCREENSHOT VIA '60 MINUTES'
  • Screenshot via '60 Minutes'

Today marks the first day that all adult Floridians can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. But anyone who has been paying attention these last few months couldn't help but notice that vaccine distribution in the state was a little wonky. In a new segment by CBS' Sunday news institution 60 Minutes, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi compared the early rollout to the dystopian young adult series The Hunger Games, a chaotic affair in which the wealthy were prioritized over any other group.

Alfonsi's report covers the state's decision to situate pop-up vaccine sites in wealthy towns, particularly focusing in on Palm Beach in South Florida. She compares the availability of vaccines in tonier addresses to elsewhere in the county where residents struggled to get appointments.

"State data revealed of the more than 160,000 residents in Palm Beach County who'd been vaccinated, only 2% were Black and 3% Hispanic. Even though minorities make up almost half the county," Alfonsi said.

Elsewhere in the story, Alfonsi questioned DeSantis' decision to make Publix a provider of the vaccine in the county, seemingly prioritizing the pharmacies over the county's own public health departments. Alfonsi alleges that campaign contributions to DeSantis' political action committee from the grocery chain might have had something to do with it.

"Before, I could call the public health director. She would answer my calls. But now if I want to get my constituents information about how to get this vaccine I have to call a lobbyist from Publix?" Florida House representative Omari Hardy told the program. "That makes no sense. They're not accountable to the public."

Alfonsi also confronted DeSantis at a press conference, accusing him of instituting a pay-to-play vaccine system.

Publix refuted the claims of Alfonsi's report in a statement to 60 Minutes.

"The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state's vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive," they said. "We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic."

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