Florida told hospital to divert vaccines to wealthy community as appointments were canceled for general public

Florida told hospital to divert vaccines to wealthy community as appointments were canceled for general public
Ron DeSantis of Florida speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Gage Skidmore

A Florida hospital diverted vaccines from the general public to an ultra-wealthy community where its CEO and Republican donors lived.

Gov. Ron DeSantis insists "the state was not involved" in helping to vaccinate 1,200 residents of the wealthy Ocean Reef community in January, but a spokeswoman for Baptist Health Systems, which administered the doses, told Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald that state officials did intervene.

"It is our understanding that the Medical Center at Ocean Reef asked the State of Florida for vaccine doses, and the State of Florida asked Baptist Health to take delivery of the doses to our ultra-cold freezer storage for delivery to the Medical Center at Ocean Reef,'' said Baptist Health spokeswoman Dori Alvarez in a statement.

Some of the beneficiaries had donated to the governor's political action committee, which has garnered almost $4 million, and Baptist Health Systems president and CEO Brian Keeley and his wife own a home in Ocean Reef.

The spokeswoman would not say whether the couple was involved in getting the vaccine doses delivered to their community.

Baptist Health canceled vaccine appointments for hundreds of people in January because not enough doses were available.

Agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried and state Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer have asked the FBI to investigate the delivery of doses to wealthy communities that tend to back DeSantis.

"If this isn't public corruption," Fried said, "I don't know what is."

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