Vaccine Controversy within the Florida Keys and Puerto Rican Statehood

This Wednesday March 10th, sequence of the sundial:

Vaccinations on Ocean Reef

From Florida City to West Palm Beach, millions of Florida residents are struggling to get their first vaccinations. But back in January, residents of the Ocean Reef community in Key Largo were given exclusive access to vaccines, weeks before they were available to a very limited number of the public.

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There are now calls for an independent investigation into the governor’s vaccine distribution plan as some Ocean Reef residents are major Republican donors. We spoke to Miami Herald reporters David Goodhue and Mary Ellen Klas, who were closely following the story.

We reached out to Monroe County Commissioner Mike Forster to join today’s program. Instead, he made the following written statement:

As the newly elected Commissioner of Monroe County, District 5, there has not been a day since vaccines became available that I have not been concerned about gun shots. From my point of view in the food chain as a policy maker, allocations and distribution are not something I can get into. Where, when and how many vaccines that are shot into the arms of my constituents are first decided at the state level where they determine the highest and best use, and they are also assigned to our health department (state run) and our emergency management. With all that said, I and I sure heard other murmurs about my constituents on Ocean Reef receiving vaccines, but I can tell you clearly that I have never seen anything facilitated by anyone in the county. For me it would be just that to speculate about what happened. I have and will continue to advocate vaccines for everyone openly, fairly and with full transparency.

We also reached out to Florida State Representative Jim Mooney (of which Key Largo District is a part) and Baptist Health, the organization responsible for delivering vaccines to Ocean Reef Medical Center. We are waiting for a response from both of them and will update this post when they get back to us.

Puerto Rican statehood

There are competing proposals in Congress by Florida Representative Darren Soto and New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the question of Puerto Rican statehood.

Last November, Puerto Ricans voted on a referendum asking if the island should become a state and the majority said yes.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi was a major statehood advocate in Washington DC, but there have been numerous statehood bills over the years that have made little progress in Congress.

On Wednesday’s show, we asked the question, “Should Puerto Rico become a state, or should it remain a territory, or should it become an independent island?”

Our guests for the panel discussion included:

  • Patricia Mazzei, the Miami office director of the New York Times, which covers Puerto Rico.
  • Victor Vazquez-Hernandez, professor of history at Miami-Dade College and author of three books on the Puerto Rican diaspora
  • Frances Colon, vice president of the Puerto Rican Leadership Council of South Florida and former diplomat.

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