Officials push back after ’60 Minutes’ highlights Florida’s ‘chaotic’ vaccine rollout

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a fiery exchange with "60 Minutes" reporter Sharyn Alfonsi. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As of midnight Monday morning, the state reported more than 6.2 million Floridians had been vaccinated.

The report came out shortly after CBS News’ “60 Minutes” aired a story Sunday night claiming Florida’s vaccine distribution was ‘chaotic’ and controlled by money and wealth.

The “60 Minutes” story began with a powerful statement about the state’s vaccine distribution system.

“We watched Florida’s vaccine rollout deteriorate into a virtual free for all,” said 60 Minutes reporter Sharyn Alfonsi.

Tanya Tatum, Student Services Director at FAMU, directs the vaccination site on campus, where 3,000 have already been vaccinated. She hasn’t seen the problem.

“No free for alls here. We seem to be doing pretty well,” said Tatum.

But other communities in Florida, including communities of color highlighted in the story, have faced issues.

Late last year, Publix made four $25,000 donations to the Friends of Ron DeSantis political action committee. Fast forward to early 2021, when the grocery chain was basically given exclusive distribution rights in Palm Beach County.

CBS asked the Governor if it was pay-to-play in a combative exchange at a recent press conference.

“I met with the county mayor. I met with the administrator. I met with all the folks in Palm Beach County. And I said here are some of the options. We can do more drive-through sites. We can give more to hospitals. We can do the Publix. And they said we think that would be the easiest thing for our residents,” said DeSantis.

Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat leaving the state soon, responded with a tweet taking responsibility for the decision to contract with Publix.

Rep. Omari Hardy was featured prominently in the story.

He told News4Jax, many of the governor’s decisions don’t consider how they will affect people of color.

“It does no good for the governor to defend that decision by saying well most people were okay with it,” said Hardy.

In a statement, Publix called the pay-to-play allegations irresponsible, false and offensive.

David Kerner, the Democratic Mayor of West Palm Beach, also has issued a statement.

“The reporting was not just based on bad information, it was intentionally false. I know this because I offered to provide my insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts and ’60 Minutes’ declined,” Kerner said.