Gov. DeSantis holds vaccine rollout press conferences, addresses potential capitol protests

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Gov. Ron DeSantis (Credit: News Service of Florida)

Gov. Ron DeSantis held multiple press conferences Tuesday on the vaccine rollout across the state.

DeSantis held press conferences at The Village, Niceville, and Panama City Beach.

DeSantis said that Florida’s decision to vaccinate seniors 65 and older against the coronavirus has been justified by the federal government’s decision to do the same. Appearing at a drive-through vaccination site in The Villages, DeSantis said that the state’s decision to include those over 65-year-old in the eligibility category, instead of essential workers, is proving to be the best way to administer the vaccine. DeSantis’ spoke after Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Good Morning America Tuesday that the federal government will direct states to use their supplies to start vaccinating individuals age 65 and older as well as anyone with a comorbidity that puts them at risk.

“Putting seniors first was the right decision,” DeSantis said. “If you look at Florida, in terms of the number of shots that we have for senior citizens, we are leading the country by a country mile on this.”

The governor’s comments come amid criticism toward the rollout of the vaccination program. The CDC vaccine tracker shows that almost 25.5 million doses of vaccine have been distributed nationwide, as of January 11th, with more than 1.6 million doses sent to Florida. A separate state Department of Health report shows that about 600 thousand people have been vaccinated in the state.

He added, “We are doing 65 and up. I think you are going to see now the federal government tell people that is a better way to be able to do it.”

Regarding potential protests, DeSantis warned that law enforcement reinforcements will be on hand if anyone plans to participate in armed protests at the state Capitol. DeSantis’ comments were in response to a question about an internal FBI bulletin obtained by a number of media outlets indicating the federal agency has received information that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20th.

No additional security was visibly noticeable at the capitol in Tallahassee Tuesday, as state lawmakers met for legislative committee meetings. DeSantis says he’s not sure he’s received any specific information regarding the threats on the capitol.

DeSantis said, “I don’t want to see that, but if anything is disorderly, we’re going to act very quickly. Don’t worry about that.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a statement Tuesday, indicating it is analyzing the situation. The statement says quote, “We are aware of the information regarding possible protests and violence at state capitols. FDLE and Capitol Police continue to monitor the national situation and analyze information relevant to public safety. We regularly collaborate with our federal, state and local partners to discuss and implement security measures that enhance public safety at Florida’s Capitol,”

Watch The Villages 9 a.m. press conference, the first of the day, below or click here.

Watch DeSantis’ second press conference in Niceville below or click here. A third press conference was also held at a Publix in Panama City Beach.

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