Some exclusives by Mary Ellen Klas in the Miami Herald

‘ ’22 is right around the corner.’ DeSantis’ optics were focus of Lakewood Ranch vaccine organizers

Organizers of the three-day vaccine distribution event last month in Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County were focused on more than shots, text messages between them and the governor’s office show. They were also keenly aware of the political optics of bringing Gov. Ron DeSantis into town to promote vaccines in their Republican-rich neighborhood. Rather than rely on a random selection of vaccine-eligible residents, the governor’s staff wanted them to create a list of who would get a vaccine.

Legislating in the time of COVID-19 means putting protections over public access

Located on the tallest hill in the highest part of the state, halfway between Pensacola and Jacksonville, Florida’s Capitol is hard to reach for most Floridians during the annual legislative session.But this year, as legislators opened their 60-day session Tuesday trying to navigate a global pandemic and stay healthy enough to avoid disrupting their activities, access to elected government is even more distant.

Timeline: Florida’s dark year for its Sunshine Law

A year ago on March 1, 2020, Florida announced its first two cases of the novel coronavirus, and declared a public health emergency recognizing the emergence of the novel coronavirus. Only later did we learn that the spread of COVID-19 in Florida likely began in January, if not earlier, but as late as March 11, as the White House downplayed the virus, Gov. Ron DeSantis denied that community spread was taking place in Florida. Here is a summary of the state of transparency in Florida over the last year:

The Florida COVID-19 data said one thing while Gov. DeSantis sometimes said another

When Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that most of the state would reopen for business on May 4, he cited his administration’s “data-driven strategy” and success at achieving “critical benchmarks in flattening the curve” to contain COVID-19. But a review of the data the governor was using shows his public pronouncements were often in conflict with real-time facts. He either wasn’t aware the data showed that community spread, regional outbreaks and death tolls were worse than he was telling Floridians, or he selectively focused on outdated statistics to make his case.
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