“Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign, and then you rewarded them with exclusive rights to vaccination in Palm Beach,” a CBS reporter said at a press conference for the governor in Orlando. DeSantis said the reporter peddled a “fake narrative” when she alleged he engaged in a “pay-for-play” scheme.
However, 60 Minutes omitted a key section of DeSantis’s response, in which he states that the first pharmacies to take charge of vaccine distribution were CVS and Walgreens, and were initially tasked with vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities.
DeSantis said that in January the state wanted to expand distribution sites and contacted other large chains with pharmacies.
“You had the counties, you had some drive-thru sites, you had hospitals that were doing a lot, but we wanted to get it into communities more,” DeSantis said. “So we reached out to other retail pharmacies: Publix, Walmart, obviously CVS and Walgreens had to finish that mission and we said we’re going to use you as soon as you’re done with that.”
DeSantis has grown in popularity among GOP voters, who view the governor as a potential presidential candidate in 2024 if President Trump decides not to run again.
In particular, the governor has touted his state’s refusal to close schools and businesses in Fall 2020 as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, decisions that were popular among Republicans. Florida’s death rate and new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 people have been roughly average among U.S. states throughout the pandemic.