Governor Ron DeSantis clashes with CNN reporter over Florida’s vaccine distribution

Reports circulated of elderly residents waiting overnight to receive a Covid-19 vaccine 

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Tuesday 05 January 2021 21:12 GMT
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis entered into a verbal spat with a CNN reporter over vaccine distribution

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis clashed with a CNN reporter when he was asked about problems with vaccine distribution in his state.

During a press conference on Monday, CNN’s Rosa Flores asked the governor why problems with the vaccine distribution were happening, including elderly residents waiting overnight to receive the jab. But the question caused a heated back and forth between the reporter and the governor, who appeared frustrated by the interaction.

"What has gone wrong with the rollout of the vaccine, phone lines jammed, website crashing..." Ms Flores said.

But before she could finish her question, Mr DeSantis interrupted her by saying “there's a lot of demand..."

Ms Flores then pushed back and asked the governor if she could finish her question, which started the contentious exchange between the pair.

"So you gonna give a speech, or you gonna ask a question?...You're gonna ask how many questions? You get three? They [other reporters] only got one question, why do you get three?" Mr DeSantis said.

The end of Ms Flores’ question, when she finally was able to ask it, was about "senior citizens waiting overnight for the vaccine." 

The governor then questioned what areas of Florida experienced elderly residents waiting overnight, and he was told Orange County and Lee County, as well as others, experienced the problem. But Mr DeSantis insisted it was on the reporter to investigate the problem.

“You’re the governor, that’s why I am asking you,” Ms Flores said.

Mr DeSantis claimed it was on the hospitals, not the state government, to dictate how the vaccines were distributed, stating it would be a “disaster” for his administration to get involved.

“These guys [local hospitals] are much more competent to be able to deliver healthcare services than a state government could ever be,” he said.

On Monday, the Florida Department of Health provided areas around the state with Covid-19 vaccines to go to people ages 65 years and older. Vaccination centres were set up in multiple parts of the state, which encouraged residents to line up and even wait overnight in hopes of receiving one of the doses available.

Elderly residents parked and waited overnight into Monday morning at Daytona Stadium in Daytona Beach, which forced the vaccination centre to shut its doors earlier than anticipated because it hit capacity.

People were encouraged to return on Tuesday if they wanted to try again, but Daytona police asked that no residents wait overnight at the stadium.

"We understand that there is [a] very high demand for this vaccine and that some people are considering camping out the night before or showing up hours in advance to make sure they or their loved ones get the shot first,” the police department wrote in a statement.

"We do not encourage you to do that because it is a potential safety hazard to everyone involved,” it added.

Mr DeSantis further put pressure on the hospitals during his Monday press conference by issuing a warning to the healthcare systems that held on to their vaccine doses for too long.

“Hospitals that do not do a good job at getting a vaccine out, their allotment will be transferred to hospitals that are,” Mr DeSantis said, adding that he wanted to see “healthy competition” between hospitals to get doses in people’s arms.

Florida has received more than 1.1 million vaccine doses from the federal government, but only about 264,000 residents have thus far received the jab, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine tracker.

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