DeSantis criticizes Biden’s vaccine plan as ‘big mistake,’ ‘not necessary’

Biden wants to enlist FEMA to create vaccine clinics across the country.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. [ GREG LOVETT | AP ]
Published Jan. 19, 2021

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t impressed with President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to enlist the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with the nation’s vaccine rollout.

During a news conference in Cape Coral on Tuesday, DeSantis said Biden’s plan to use federal disaster agency and the National Guard to build COVID-19 vaccine clinics across the country would be a “big mistake.”

“I saw some of this stuff Biden’s putting out, that he’s going to create these FEMA camps, I can tell you, that’s not necessary in Florida,” he said. “All we need is more vaccine. Just get us more vaccine.”

“To try and reinvent the wheel at this point I think would be a big mistake,” DeSantis added. “The more bureaucracy that’s involved in this, the worse it’s going to be.”

The comments were the first Florida’s governor has made about the incoming administration’s vaccine plans. Unlike President Donald Trump’s approach of letting states distribute the vaccines, which has been slower than expected at getting shots into arms, Biden said last week he would speed the process by enlisting federal help.

“Our plan is going to focus on getting shots into arms, including by launching a fundamentally new approach, establishing thousands of federally run or federally supported community vaccination centers of various size located in places like high school gymnasiums and N.F.L. stadiums,” Mr. Biden said during an interview with WFXE-FM in Columbus, Ga., according to The New York Times.

DeSantis, a Trump ally, has also faced intense criticism over the state’s slow and confusing vaccine rollout. But he dismissed Biden’s idea.

“Just think about it: If you come in and tell FEMA to create some type of camp, how long is that going to take?” DeSantis said. “And then are you going to divert vaccines from my efforts here?”

“I worry the more that they try to control the application of it, I think that’s going to be very problematic,” DeSantis added. “They should use their ability and authority to get more vaccine for folks.”

DeSantis was originally asked whether he’d spoken with the Biden administration about the vaccine plan. DeSantis did not say.

“I don’t have any read on it,” he said.

• • •

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