Florida's healthcare workers who are on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 have been among the first Floridians to get the vaccine. Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to this deadly virus, and they, too, are at the head of the line to get the shot.
Gov. Ron DeSantis was right to make each group a priority. He was smart, too, to make hospitals the main channel of distribution. They have the personnel to deliver the vaccine and access to the targeted populations. And he has made clear that he wants to give more vaccine to those facilities that can scale up efficiently and effectively.
Now, one of the most responsible things the governor can do is tell Floridians: Who's next?
Look ahead, governor
There remains so much uncertainty, bordering on chaos sometimes, even as the precious vaccine is administered. While some of those eligible are thrilled when the process of getting an appointment, then getting the vaccine goes smoothly, many others still are lost in the weeds of the process of getting a time certain, managing to get to the vaccination site, only to be turned away.
There's also the uncertainty of how much of the vaccine the state is getting. That means each county and hospital aren't clear, either, This, of course, determines how many people can be vaccinated. It varies.
In fact, there is so much uncertainty that a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers, including Reps. Carlos Gimenez and Mario Diaz-Balart - Republicans like DeSantis - sent the governor a letter on Friday requesting a briefing. They want to know what to tell their constituents. DeSantis should not keep them in the dark, which has been his unfortunate habit.
The governor has provided little guidance, leaving it up to individual venues to interpret the guidelines. Unfortunately, almost the only thing that's has been consistent about the governor's stewardship of the COVID pandemic is his inconsitency in conveying, first, that he really knows what he's doing and, second, that he is totally committed to eliminating this scourge.
On Jan. 9 alone, Florida reported 15,445 new COVID-19 cases, breaking a two-day streak where cases exceeded 19,000.
So much is still up in the air that the governor should deliver some peace of mind to Floridians by announcing sooner rather than later what group of people, which demographic will be next in line for the shot in the arm.
Our recommendation: teachers, police officers, firefighters, transit and postal workers. Then, perhaps, restaurant workers, delivery-truck drivers, supermarket and grocery store employees. In other words, the public-facing workers who were applauded as essential just a few short months ago, worthy of our gratitude, allowing the rest of us to hunker down in quarantine.
But DeSantis clapped back at teachers, who are justified to want vaccines sooner rather than later. That's a ridiculous stance. DeSantis ordered public schools to open - even threatening districts that didn't reopen - therefore, making teachers, administrators and students more vulnerable to contracting the virus no matter how careful they are.
DeSantis has steadfastly refused to mandate that Floridians wear masks and has handcuffed counties that want to impose tougher safety measures. Those who make a living while most exposed to the thoughtless people who refuse to mask up should be moved to the front of the line to be vaccinated, thereby helping protect the many others with whom they come in contact, too. If the governor isn't going to be consistent, at least he should be helpful, not hurtful.