Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is again bucking the advice of federal health officials, announcing Tuesday that essential workers will not be prioritized in the state’s next round of coronavirus vaccinations, which he said will be focused on the massive population of Floridians over 70.
At a news conference Tuesday, DeSantis scoffed at the recommendation Sunday from a CDC advisory panel that said that the next round of vaccinations should go to essential workers, like firefighters and food workers, as well as those 75 and older.
Instead, Florida will prioritize the more than 3 million residents older than 70, in a process expected to take six weeks.
Younger Floridians who have serious underlying health conditions are not included in the next round.
States are free to decide who will receive doses of the vaccines they’re receiving from the federal Operation Warp Speed program, though the vast majority are prioritizing frontline health workers and nursing home and long-term care residents in the initial round.
California appears poised to follow the federal guidelines, even after its own Department of Public Health issued a recommendation that did not include the elderly in the next round.
In Texas, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that those 65 and older, along with all adults with serious pre-existing conditions, would be prioritized over essential workers.
“We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly, vulnerable population,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has not been one to follow national trends throughout the pandemic. Florida does not have a statewide mask mandate in place and DeSantis is not allowing localities to enforce their own mandates through issuing fines, even though most states have a mandate in effect. Florida is also by far the largest state to have lifted essentially all restrictions for bars and restaurants at the statewide level, a move Dr. Anthony Fauci said was “really asking for trouble.” The state has also been among the hardest-hit nationally from coronavirus, taking the brunt of the second Covid surge during the summer months. It’s one of only four states to have recorded over 20,000 coronavirus deaths, along with California, Texas and New York.
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