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Publix grocery chain pharmacies in Florida were chosen to distribute nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 vaccines in the state weeks after the company donated $100,000 to a PAC supporting GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, “60 Minutes” reported Sunday.
The money trail was one of several linking wealthy supporters of DeSantis to special vaccine access, whether it was a greenlight to boost business as a vaccine provider, or special access to getting the shots.
In another example, the wealthy Republican city of Palm Beach was given 1,000 vaccine doses from an early, limited supply, the TV news show reported. A number of communities of color in the county, meanwhile, lagged far behind in access to the vaccines as Publix, the state’s largest supermarket chain, was allowed to decide on its own where to focus its efforts to distribute the vaccinations.
Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi compared the situation to a free-for-all “Hunger Games,” with desperate Floridians scrambling for vaccinations and wealthy GOP contributors almost always coming out on top.
The story built on local media reports about special access to vaccines to GOP donors. Those earlier stories triggered a call last month for an investigation into “red carpet vaccine distribution” by state Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, who also serves as Florida’s consumer watchdog.
In a statement to 60 Minutes, Publix says there is no connection between the supermarket chain's campaign contributions and its partnership with the state to administer the vaccine. The company's full statement can be read here: https://t.co/gyrW9hYPTg— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) April 4, 2021
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