Florida County Commissioner Prioritized COVID-19 Vaccine for County’s 2 Richest Zip Codes, Then Created a 'VIP List'

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference about the opening of a COVID-19 vaccination site at the Hard Rock Stadium on January 6, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference about the opening of a COVID-19 vaccination site at the Hard Rock Stadium on January 6, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

It’s no secret that a lot of Republicans are evil—probably most Republicans—but Florida Republicans are like Satan’s own personal task force sent on unholy missions to keep the most underserved and underprivileged in the state at the back of literally every line ever. I’m not sure what else to call it besides evil when a Manatee County commissioner in charge of a COVID-19 vaccine drive—which was initiated by Florida governor and Donald Trump’s smelliest bowel movement Ron DeSantis—decided to prioritize vaccinations for the two richest and whitest zip codes in the county and even created a “VIP list” for herself and others to jump the line.

CNN reports that Vanessa Baugh, the commissioner in question, admitted on Thursday that she “wanted to make sure certain people were on the list” for vaccination after it came out that she told county officials to create what one official called a “VIP list” to allow her and others to cut to the front of the vaccination line. But Baugh wasn’t only criticized for putting herself in VIP like she’s the Gucci Mane of this COVID vaccination shit. Emails revealed that the only people chosen to attend the vaccine drive were residents of the two wealthiest zip codes in Manatee County, which are not only overwhelmingly white but have the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the county.

“Commissioner Baugh has asked we pull a list of those in the vaccine waiting pool that have listed 34202 and 34211 as their residence,” Manatee County Public Safety Director Jacob Saur wrote in a February 12 email.

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In case you’re wondering if Mrs. Howell from the Gilligan’s Island of the seventh Hell (the first six Hells are currently occupied by Rush Limbaugh) has any remorse for treating a vaccine drive like it’s an exclusive country club—nah, she doesn’t give a fuck.

From CNN:

In a public county commissioner meeting on Thursday, Baugh apologized for the criticism regarding the “pop-up” vaccination site, but said that if presented with the opportunity again, “I will do exactly what I did this time.” Baugh further explained that she “did exactly what (DeSantis) wanted” in organizing the vaccine drive.

On Tuesday, in another public county commissioner meeting, Baugh said that the vaccine drive was initiated by DeSantis, a Republican, and involved real estate developer Rex Jensen. A news release on the Manatee County website says it aimed to vaccinate 3,000 people over three days.

Maaaaan, don’t even get me started on Lucifer’s most unpoppable pimple, Gov. DeSantis.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the pop-up vaccination drive served residents of Lakewood Ranch, a “planned community in Southwest Florida with family ties to Liz and Dick Uihlein.” I don’t know who the fuck these people are, but the New York Times characterized them as “the most powerful conservative couple you’ve never heard of.” The Sentinel noted that the couple’s list of political donations “includes $900,000 Dick Uihlein gave to DeSantis’ political committee in 2018 and 2019,” but no worries, I’m sure that has nothing to do with the couple’s zip code being included in the vaccines-for-white-privilege rally.

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DeSantis responded to criticism of the VIP vaccine distribution by threatening to take his ball and go home.

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“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it,” DeSantis said.

Keep in mind that DeSantis spent most of last year pretending that the coronavirus pandemic just barely existed. He showed nothing but contempt for lockdowns, mask mandates and other measures meant to slow the spread of the virus and basically helped his state become a superspreader. I mean, Mitch McConnell’s third chin was basically competing to make Florida the Michael Jordan of COVID-19 cases.

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Now, we finally have a vaccine and DeSantis is basically like: “To the richest and whitest people in Manatee County who need this shit the least, COME ON DOWN!”

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It’s also worth mentioning that Baugh, along with other county commissioners, voted on Jan. 6, in favor of a protocol that would “distribute vaccines through a system that a source in the Manatee County government said was engineered to be more equitable,” CNN reports. It was a system that would create a lottery pool for vaccination appointments that county residents would sign up for and a random draw would decide the order for vaccine recipients.

To be honest, that also sounds pretty fucked, but it’s better than giving the wealthiest and least vulnerable in the county first dibs.

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This shit would be shameful if Florida Republicans had any shame.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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Foxstar loves Bashcraft

And yet he will most likely be reelected, even with flaming middle finger he and Rick Scott gave to any sap who has had to file for unemployment. I just checked, although Deanus has ‘waved’ select requirements, filing for unemployment is still as much of a slog, maybe even more so as it was last year when people were stuck in a refresh cycle to try to avoid starving or being pitched out on the street.

They know this too. Rick Scott defrauded Medicare for a shitload of money and yet, he was elected, re-elected and promoted upwards. The GOP’s base does not give a shit.