All About COVID, with a Focus on Florida Follies!

Aug Update – Wow, these articles are aging quickly! As bad as things were, DeSantis and his mass infection plan have made them MUCH worse. As I write this FL is headed for a peak of over 200 deaths per day – and has record hospitalizations. All avoidable -with no consequences! To see what FL has done in a simple graph (#51?), click here.

Introduction 

But…But…But….Compared to….We did OK…what about? WhatAbout? – If the preceding sentence contains terms and ideas you use to understand the US and Florida Failure of COVID Policy, my suggestion is that you stop reading here and go back to repeating BS.  Also, if you don’t believe in Logic, Reason, Germ Theory, etc.  – you are wasting your time. However, for those who have an open mind there is much to be learned in this “endless” post.

Yes, it will be long. However, I will soon add chapter links here at the top allowing readers to skip to various sections quickly.
Here’s a separate article if you want to know why – just maybe – you should read this article…that is, what my basic qualifications for writing it are!

This overview may provide a fuller understanding of current problems in the USA . Although we will focus through the lens of the Trump Admin and Florida, these issues have been similar to other historical movements in terms of “know nothings”, selfishness and False Patriotism – together they are causing our Republic to be shaken to the core.

The Founders famously said that our Constitution is ONLY for a moral and ethical populace. It is not designed for others. The so-called “checks and balances” only apply within the scope of logic, reason and moral/ethical debates. The Constitution is not – and can never be – a document which covers everything…one which cannot be gamed.

It is likely that, if nothing else, most readers will agree that our Constitution has been gamed – that our Leaders are often not “For The People” nor “For the General Welfare” but rather out for themselves or their paymasters (lobbyists, foreign powers, dogma, etc.).

Jump to (under construction!) – DeSantis Picked Mass Infection – doomed Floridians

Jump to- DeSantis decided against Proper Vaccine Program – RESULT: Florida is #1 NOW in new Deaths

General

There are certain reasonable and human viewpoints which you must possess to learn more about the Floridian and American response to COVID. If these type of statements ring true ,  you are likely flexible minded enough to read on.

  1. With Great Power comes Great Responsibility.
  2. Honor thy Mother and thy Father – the Meek (weak) Shall Inherit the Earth (these are the targets of COVID).
  3. It’s not the Hand Dealt, it’s what ONE DOES with the Hand Dealt, that defines a person.
  4. A Politician does not make the Sun come up in the Morning, nor does everything that happens “under” them, both positive and negative, happen because of them.

If your view is that Donald Trump is a moral and capable man and a great leader, you may be wasting your time reading further. If we cannot accept basics such as Gravity, Germ Theory and Leadership Expectations, Morality/Ethics – we likely can’t agree on much else other than perhaps the Flavors of Ice Cream we enjoy (please – no mint!).

Please – no rebuttals using World-o-meter and.or “joe blow’ or Fox News metrics or sources. The entire idea of this post is that the Big Picture contains much more (in nuance, let alone numbers) than “self-reported” state figures. As a simple example, if a person from NJ flies to Florida, becomes infected, and starts a chain back in NJ and NYC which grows to 100’s of cases, who caused that? I’d say Florida, the Fed Government, the Airline and the 1st Individual in that order (there are multiple responsibilities)

The Really Big Picture – Claims from Our Leaders

We all know the story of “6 cases and down to zero”, “go away in April”, “pews will be filled by Easter (2020)” and similar statements. There are too many of these to quote, however there is an number range which we must consider if we are to understand Cause and Effect with the COVID Response – this involves the Realistic Predictions and Scenarios made AFTER more was known about the Virus. A good middle ground involves a statement recently made by Dr. Birx, member of the Trump Administrations COVID Team:
“There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of them…could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”

This was not Pie in the Sky but rather came from a Doctor (expert in Pandemics) who was on the Front Lines and clearly saw that effects of Lack of Leadership (failure to act).

This figure, 100K deaths, lines up roughly with statements from other experts as well as Trump himself. Initially, Trump claimed that if we keep deaths to 50-60K it would be an amazing accomplishment. A few week later this was revised to 100,000 deaths (end March, 2020), a figure which scared Americans as this was an unheard of number of deaths from a novel disease. Finally, as the level of failure became clear, the figure was broadened to 100K-200K. Given the variables, this is/was a realistic scenario. All of these projections fit into the general realm of the Birx statement – whether 60K or 200K – the range seemed applicable.

As I write this in July of 2021, the total death toll in the USA (IMHE) projection is 950K – which includes excess deaths and adjustments from related causes (lack of seeking medical attention, MV differences, Suicides) – some of these add to the toll, some of them may lower it! Given the variants and recently increased positivity along with continuing deaths in some places (Republicans are not taking the vaccine enough to achieve herd immunity), we can use One Million as a rough figure. If we are generous on the low projection side of things and use the 200K number, we can start with the assumption that we have killed 800,000 of our Mothers and Fathers and Weak intentionally – through our foolishness, selfishness, etc.
Another way of expressing this is we have seen 5X (500%) as much damage/death from COVID as need be – given the modern world and our resources. These excess deaths were optional.

Hello Florida! Quick Overview

As per the Introduction, the COVID response is much too complex for comparisons in general – and especially for State to State comparisons. This should be evident – Germs don’t care about State Borders. Germs travel in cars and on planes. However, Florida is very different from many states in some aspects – which does make it somewhat of a “Petri Dish” study.

  1. It is a Peninsula, therefore COVID isn’t coming in from all sides by ground transportation.
  2. Mass Transit is almost non-existent – car culture allows for separation of the population
  3. Ventilation (outdoors) is accessible year-round
  4. Many Residents have some living space – i.e. single houses
  5. Vastly fewer Direct Flights from Asia and Europe – No Airports in Florida were FAA/Fed Gov. airports taking US Travelers back in when COVID struck)

Unlike many hard-hit states, the vast majority of Florida Deaths and Infections hap. pened AFTER the first 100K deaths (see: Birx above).  A date of June 15, 2020 is a good cut-off point since that was after both testing and treatment were available and also allowed time for those already infected weeks back to add to the mortality. The percentage of deaths vs. infections were cut by 70% or more once the basics of treatment were known, one important reason why “comparisons” are moot. Florida did not develop these treatments, but having their infections later meant much lower deaths per 100K infections.

IMHE shows approx. 4K deaths in Florida by June 15 – a time when the Gov. claimed the state was out of the woods and could largely re-open. IMHE now projects 58,000 Deaths in Florida before the end of 2021, meaning 93% of Florida deaths happened after the cut-off date – the date when Birx and others claim we could have stopped or slowed ALL deaths. This is a very important point – as it is the best indication of “what was done with hand dealt ONCE treatment and testing and avoidance techniques were known”.

DeSantis Quick Report Card

The Gov. of Florida claimed that the State was largely finished with COVID at about 3.5K deaths. This is a tweet direct from his Press Sec. – saying that projections of 4K or 4400 Deaths were flatly wrong. In addition, this was approx the time (end May, 2020) when Gov. claimed that all numbers were so low that the State could start opening up.

Those who have followed Florida probably know some of the situation with Rebeka Jones, a Dept. of Health Employee who was let go (and then her house raided for computers, phones) for “insubordination” – in this case her knowing that Florida was likely to get much worse and not being able to live with herself if she went along with the Story Line that the State was Ready to Open. However, Jones was one of tens of thousands of Floridians who had been closely looking at the Florida Situation and KNEW it was too early to open…and, in fact, that the numbers were going UP, not down….meaning the Gov. was going against his own plan and promises to open Florida in the face of Mass Infection waves starting.

In the end, Florida deaths will be 10 to 15X what the Gov. claimed (promised) as he re-opened the state. His promises were not made early when no information was available. Those would have been excusable to some degree – these were made months after the whole world knew what COVID might do to us.

It Gets Worse – MUCH WORSE

Given such massive numbers – as many deaths in Florida as were projected for the entire nation  – one might be excused for trying to reconcile these deaths by using the common techniques of comparisons and/or what-about. However, there is a important subject regarding Florida which has largely been overlooked – that being the question of how many COVID cases and deaths Florida has spread to the rest of the Country. There is no other state that comes close to the “Florida Effect” of COVID spreading – which has to include ALL these criteria.

  1. Heavily travelled – over 100 Million visits per year – many of them by quasi-residents and many to and from heavily populated areas.
  2. A continuous high positivity in Florida for over a year – the state never having settled even at the highest “community spread” number of 5% – but rather exceeded 20% (% is over 5% still as this is written in July, 2021).
  3. Leaders who promote Mass Infection and make laws and statements regarding the “freedom” of a lack of mass mandates.
  4. A Culture, and specifically a Travel Culture, of partying, drinking and general Lack of Responsibility toward others (a selfish culture).
  5. A poorly educated populace – many who value the Medical Advice of a Preacher (the Bleach Church and other such institutions pervade Florida) – combined with vast Media devoted to Hate and Backwardness, affect the thinking of many.

Regarding the last items, Florida (along with NY – where many Floridians come from!)  just came in last among ALL states in a measure of Patriotism – one that used various statistics such as volunteerism, participation in the military or Americorps, etc. – As with some other areas of the US (SoCal), it is a ME ME ME culture.

There is already proof of Florida infecting and re-infecting much of the country over and over again – what we don’t have yet are actual numbers (statistics). In the coming months we are likely to see some additional studies. However, it is safe to assume – even from anecdote – that millions of cases of COVID elsewhere were spread by travel to and from heavily infected Florida back to much lower infected areas. No matter what other states did, it became impossible to tamp down COVID as long as Florida itself didn’t take the disease seriously.

As a single anecdote, I was in my Northern home of MA in the mid-summer of 2020 – the citizens of the State had tamped down COVID to less than 1% positivity. A single hospital employee traveled on vacay (w/o telling the supervisor), came back and infected 33 people in the hospital (staff and patients). If one person – luckily found and traced – could do that, just imagine 100 million travelers to Florida!

It now becomes clear why Gov. DeSantis never took contact tracing seriously – why would he want to know what Florida was doing to other states? That would be something only a moral or ethical person would care about. In this case, out of sight and out of mind – as long as the numbers didn’t add to Floridas, all was good for the Gov.

Back at the start of the Pandemic, a number of infected Cruise Ships were anchored off Florida as decisions were made as to what to do with them. The Gov. finally acted – he let them dock,. shuttled the passengers directed to Ft. Lauderdale Airport, and sent them on their merry way – WITHOUT ANY TESTING OR TRACING. Imagine the infections resulting from just this?

Florida is costing ALL US CITIZENS vast Sums of Money – The Economy still Sux

Florida has always been a “taker” state. Try hard to think what was invented in Florida (nothing) or what large companies from there are paying big time into the US Economy (taxes). Whether Drugs, Housing Booms/Busts, Oligarch and other Money Laundering or Organized Crime, Florida has always relied on “alternative” means of making money. By ignoring Public Health, Florida assumed they would make money (tourism, etc.). However, the Florida economy is not only in Recession but it will take many more years to recover and grow than other states – as this is written, Florida is #37 among the states in how quickly it is recovering financially.

As with the exporting of COVID Cases to other states, the Gov. was happy to make $500 profit from a tourist visit. He was not concerned if that person ended up costing “US” $40,000 in terms of spreading COVID back home and a hospitalizations associated with the spread.

As a quick illustration of how badly COVID turned out for Florida, not only is/was the COVID infection rates incredibly high and avoidable, but there is no “up” side – that is, the talking point about “the economy” is wrong. Florida has now gained a bad reputation nationwide (and worldwide, to some degree) and tourism and business development will suffer for many years. DeSantis vendettas against “liberals, democrats, New Yorkers and tech companies” means fewer of all of these will be loving the idea of Florida.

Not to say that “the short term economy” is worth killing 10’s of thousand for – but if one buys that argument, Florida didn’t get the intended result anyway! Lose-Lose – lost the lives and losing the economy.

The Federal Government (taxpayers) could have simply given a couple 150 Billion to Florida  (1 and 1/2 years of the Budget) and a few extra hundred billion to keep business afloat and it would have been much cheaper – with few or no deaths. As a comparison, the total cost to the US Economy of Florida COVID is projected to be 1.4 TRILLION dollars!

These few tourist dollars ended up costing both Florida and the US many times the initial “profit”. However, the media and experts will never do these calculations. We don’t employ Generalists in our institutions so many policies which make sense are often overlooked.
(total US cost of COVID Pandemic is current estimated to be approx. 20 Trillion Dollars). 

Why Would DeSantis Let So Many Die?

Normal people can’t conceive letting others die when it could be changed with the stroke of a pen or a couple of sentences. Yet DeSantis, when presented with easy choices to save lives (with NO economic or other penalty) almost always chose to do the wrong thing.

No one can read minds – but there are only a couple possibilities as to why – my opinion is the first (most of this article is fact, so I will make it clear when I throw opinions in!).

  1. DeSantis simply follows what Trump does or what he thinks Trump would do – this makes sense because Trump was in office for most of the Pandemic.
  2. DeSantis is a Sociopath or Psychopath making it so there is no difference – and perhaps even some pleasure – in doing the wrong thing. The evidence for this lies in his seeming lack of caring – it is very rare (if ever) that DeSantis choked up or shed a tear as 10’s of thousands died. In fact, quite the opposite.
  3. DeSantis is Lazy – doing things requires work. I have seen a lot of direct evidence that DeSantis takes the easiest path he can get away with. If the Fed Government (Trump) and.or Florida Citizens are OK with mass deaths, he doesn’t have his own person conscience that says “Ron, you can save many lives because it’s the right thing to do”.
  4. DeSantis is Ignorant and/or Stupid – It’s hard to imagine a Harvard Grad being unintelligent – but it is possible to be ignorant. His believe in Mass Infection (the Great Barrington DeClaration) is an example. It’s doubtful that he reasoned out this approach (mass infection) as the best path – however, it became a Name Brand he could hang his hat on – that is, he can claim Mass Infection was a Real Policy based on Science.

He Opened, Floridians Died

One of the stickiest claims made in regards to Florida is that the Governor along with a large team (who I believe will be shown to be Rubber Stamps) created a Plan to re-open which involved step-by-step and the meeting of certain metric (downward trends in positivity, cases, deaths, hospitalizations, etc.) in order to move from one step to the other.

This particular claim is not in question. Nor is the fact that the Gov. did not follow HIS PLAN. Nor is the fact that not following HIS PLAN resulted in mass infection and death. How can I make these claims with such confidence? Simple – the Plan Exists, the Numbers and Dates exist and The Gov. Himself claims that he is sorry he even made the plan and started with it (an admission that he never followed or finished it). For those who want the shortest explanation, it went like this.

  1. Plan stated that re-open cannot occur until COVID was way down and headed down lower. In fact, plan stated that any reversal of such would result in rolling BACK of the plan.
  2. There has never been a time since Late May, 2020 when Cases, Infection, Deaths or other Metrics met the goals.

We cannot be more clear than that! Here if the chart from Floridas own site with the opening data noted. You can see what happened after that – making it clear that no plan was followed.

If you would like to do more reading on Floridas Plan, which was obviously tossed in the trash, you can download it from Floridas servers.

You will note that the Plan starts off with bragging about how Great Florida was doing – a very dated claim which clearly shows that marketing and PR was more important than the lives of Floridians. As stated previously, 93% of Florida infections and deaths happened AFTER this time – therefore this document shows the complete opposite of what the Gov. thinks…it shows that actions COULD have been taken to save lives, but were not.

If you want a single Page PDF we created – which spells out the Plan and Failure in a simple manner, click this link.

The Folly of Mass Infection and/or “Protecting the Vulnerable”

Mass Infection Kills

Gov. DeSantis believes in “herd immunity through mass infection” – i.e. The Great Barrington Declaration. This approach has been disproven throughout history and once again during this pandemic. It is not in question. It is not part of a reasonable debate. Given the extended lifespans that modern science and medicine have brought to us, we cannot let diseases freely “run their course” without major consequences.

DeSantis was spreading disinformation on this subject and had his video removed from Youtube – even late in the pandemic he was content to spread lies that would result in excess deaths. Part of the misinformation of “Mass Infection” involved the talking point of “We will protect the vulnerable so that Mass Infection won’t end up killing them”. This is, of course, impossible to do in the real world. Elders and those with disease cannot be isolated – as they need food, housing, caregivers, medical care (in-person appointments) and more. If one state allows COVID to spread unchecked (15% positivity, for example), many more seniors and disabled will end up getting sick as compared to another state/locale where the positivity is 3%.

As mentioned in the Introduction, comparisons of large states is very difficult due to the large number of factors which are involved – international airports, other travel, density and more. However, a small “control experiment” in Mass Infection results can be viewed in a state like South Dakota…vs. Vermont. Both states have similar (low) populations and a rural lifestyle. Neither are heavily traveled. In fact, Vermont probably has more Negatives in the case of COVID being within 2 hours of Boston (a COVID epicenter) and also having an international airport in Burlington. Below are the COVID statistics to date for both of these states.

The State where the leaders (Bernie Sanders!) and people (general liberal and science based) tried hard to manage the Virus ended up with vastly better results – results which reflect almost perfectly the original premise – that the USA allowed 5X as many people to die as might have if we had decent leadership and less ignorance among out citizens

These numbers leave no room for discussion. DeSantis bet on the wrong horse – a powerful Stud Named Mass Infection – who ended up stomping on us all.

Vaccine Failure Kills Floridians AND others!

As I write this (mid-July, 2021) Florida is 1st among the states in current deaths from COVID – also among the top in Hospitalizations and Infections – with a recent positivity rate over 5%.

How is this possible? In theory, it can’t be happening because a proper vaccination program is estimated to cut COVID deaths by 99%. Florida has had enough Vaccine for MANY months in order to give shots to that population. This is a true miracle – but not in the “positive miracle” sense, rather it’s a Evil which required direct action (and inaction) to produce.
(Document – click here to see the 99% reduction list).

The following paragraphs will tell the story – as I saw it while residing in Florida during the time when Vaccinations were important to prioritize. As with the other writing (above) you’ll have to sharpen a bit of your math and reasoning skills to see how big the failure was/is. Those who use talking points such as “He protected the vulnerable” will never get to the truth…because not only didn’t the Gov protect the vulnerable, but his actions, orders and words did the complete opposite.

To set the stage, we have to understand so the basics of COVID Mortality. An 80+ year old male with typical health conditions could easily have 50 to 200X the risk of dying from COVID than a healthy 65 year old. It is incorrect, therefore, to say they are both in the “most vulnerable” group and should have the same priority in getting vaccinated. Vaccinate a single 85 year old and you have saved as many people (or more) than vaccinating 100+ 65 year olds.

A good vaccination plan, with the proper priorities,  requires a massive effort – even more so in a state with over 20 million residents. The Federal Government required all states to submit a detailed vaccination program by October, 2020 – long before the vaccine was available. Florida created and published a plan – which still exists on the Florida State servers. It’s 52 pages and quite detailed.

Ron DeSantis threw that plan away. This is not an opinion nor an issue up for debate. He admits to tossing it – claiming later that “No plan is the best plan”. As I write this I find it hard to believe – but Floridians and other DeSantis supporters somehow eat this stuff up….or, perhaps they aren’t paying attention?
“Florida is the only state without a clear vaccination plan. DeSantis says it’s better that way”. 

This is the equiv. of crashing an airliner into the ground and then stating that you saved the trouble for the recycling company because it’s now in small pieces!  And, of course, the result in Florida has turned out MUCH worse than just crashing a couple airliners in the Ground. COVID deaths in Florida since March 1 (IMHE) are approx. 10,000. This does not include the likely massive chains of infections that Florida is still exporting (millions of visitors – some going home with COVID) nor any resulting deaths. Even a poor job by DeSantis could have saved 2/3 of those , say 6500 – and other 2000 going forward (to Oct, 2021).

It can start to boggle the mind. Why would the Gov. let 8500+ extra people die even AFTER Vax was available – when he could have changed it with a few sentences outlining a real plan for vaccine priorities? Why won’t he, to this day, make multiple PSA announcement and take some tours around Florida trying to get the vulnerable vaccinated?

The above is a summary of what has happened – some of the details follow. Some of this is either opinion and/or guesswork because it must be – I obviously do not sit in the Board Rooms of Hospitals nor am I in the Gov. Mansion. It has been reported quite often that DeSantis is largely a 2 man show – he and his wife (who does marketing and PR). – The team has expanded to three with his new “Russian/Ukrainian Expert” Press Secretary.  The Point here is – there is no true leadership team involved – the COVID response and Vaccination Program have been chaotic – as you would expect when no one is running things.

Let’s Start at the Beginning

No state needed the vaccine more than Florida! Given the policy of “Hoax/Mass Infection”, COVID has been out of control in the Sunshine State for much of the pandemic. Luckily for DeSantis, Trump was in the White House and the political situation looked good for all involved. Ron helped Trump win Florida  – one of the reasons was a slow-down in COVID death reporting – mysteriously happened in the weeks before the election. We can be sure that Trump made sure Florida had the proper allocation of Vaccines – or better. But having vaccines and GIVING vaccines are two different things – and the most important, giving to the right people, is yet another step which had to be taken to tamp down the body counts.

There is no doubt that any planned Vaccine program was tossed. The question(s) are WHY and then the issue is what happened instead of proper planning. As to why the program was tossed, we can use Occam’s Razor and/or known events (and even rumors and speculation) to make some guesses. It could very well be a combination of reasons.

  1. As guessed at the start of this article, we can speculate that the Gov. has a mental issue which results in him not caring about human life. As hard as that is to imagine, there are very few other possibilities given his words, attitude, actions, etc.
  2. He was/is incapable as a manager and executive of doing anything of this level – we have to remember that DeSantis has no Executive experience. He was a lowly Congressman – unheard of – whom Matt Gaetz helped promote to political success. Being part of the legal crew at Gitmo is a LONG way from being a General (making decisions!).
  3. His well-known temper and lack of being able to get along with others (his former employees claimed they have PTSD and started a support group) might have made it impossible for him to assemble and give responsibility to a team. We have to assume that there WERE people in Florida somewhere who could have accomplished this task – the Vax Program. For whatever reason they couldn’t be organized.

Further to the last item, this rumored email showed up on twitter many months back – 

Both the style of it – and the general subject – fit in with much else that IS known. For example, we do know many state employees quit during the Pandemic – which is very strange in itself. Wouldn’t a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic be the time where a State Employee would want to be part of the team? I know I would….IF the team and leaders were doing the right thing.

I also have it direct from an employee involved that turnover is extremely high – the State is said to pay terribly and, according to my source “most anyone who gets a chance to leave – does”. It pains me to think about one of the largest states in the USA – one located in the sub-Tropics and/or Tropics, is “saving money” on Public Health, yet that is – without question – true.  Public Health in Florida also has been decimated over the long term, going into overdrive with Rick Scott, who is, of course, against Public Health and in favor of Corporate Health Care. If you’d like to read up on the Public Health Defunding in Florida- here’s one story to get you started.
“state-run local health departments spent 41% less per resident in 2019 than in 2010”

All of the above fits perfectly in with the Deregulation and Privatization policies of some of our Political leaders.

No One Is Home!

As the Vaccine started to arrive in Florida, it quickly must have become evident that there was no one in charge. This is not a guess. There as nothing spelled out about how things were to proceed. The Plan was tossed and replaced with a 3 line Executive Order from DeSantis. Unfortunately, Executive Orders and Signatures do not do logistics!

The Executive Order had only 3 Bullet Points:

Long-term care facility residents and staff;
Persons 65 years of age and older; and
Health care personell with direct patient contact

Notice there is no priority given – who gets it and when? This is also missing the #1 causation of COVID hospitalizations and deaths! That cause involves “co-morbidities” such as diabetes, organ transplants, etc.

To personalize that last sentence – our local Facebook COVID discussion group had a member who was 64 years old and had a lung removed. Her other lung was only 50% functional. She was begging – pleading – for MONTHS….to get a vaccine. She could not. I watched a PR event where the Gov. was asked Point Blank if he was including pre-existing conditions – “We can’t sort them out” was his answer – even thought the Vaccination Plan which he approved and signed previously DID sort them out! Most all other states sorted them out – as this was the REAL order suggested to minimize deaths:
1. Phase 1a:  health care workers and long-term care facility residents
2. Phase 1b:  persons aged ≥75 years and frontline essential workers
3. Phase 1c: persons aged 65–74 years, persons aged 16–64 years with high-risk medical conditions,

By using the 75+ age priority, many (perhaps most) with serious medial conditions would overlap – which is not true of 65+. That is, people over 75 are more likely than not to have co-morbidities. Within these guidelines, states and localities had some differences – for example, some states (like MA) vaccinated all “congregate settings” such as prisons, group homes, etc. as these are obvious sources of spread.

In Florida it was “Every man for himself” as the Gov. promised 6 million people (12 million doses – it would take to cover all in his executive order) when he had only 1 million doses…and then more little by little. It was complete chaos. A 65 year old Marathon Runner or the Accounting Department at the Local Hospital (those are not “patient facing” health workers) might get a vaccine – the very vaccine that should have went to someone with 200X the chance of death!

Once it became clear that no one was in charge – and no one was watching – we can only guess at all the possibilities for malfeasance. We do know of some – as reporting has been done on the matter.

No, Really, there was No One Home!

Due to the magic of Social Media (Next-door and Facebook and Twitter) we were able to keep up by the minute with the chaotic rollout. The DOH in Sarasota is 4 blocks from our house – and we surely hoped we’d be able to get a vaccine there eventually (never happened). Florida is a big state so I am going to limit the next tales to our local area – however, I have heard first hand stories from many other parts of the state.

The first Vaccines to land in Sarasota were at two places – the larger Hospital in the area and the Department of Health offices. The Hospital claimed their vaccines were for them (internally) although they likely received many thousands (perhaps tens of thousand) of doses. If the Hospital followed the initial guidelines the first vaccines would go to patient facing Medical Personnel – those much more likely to be infected with COVID. Public Health and Common sense would dictate that you’d give them (internally) in order – first to those working in the ER, ICU  and COVID areas, next to those who are in the general area of COVID patients (but not in contact) and so on.

Within a week or two we began to hear first hand stories of Hospitals giving to “any or every” employee….or, with some, to every employee over 65 even if they had nothing to do with medicine or patients (the accounting staff, etc.). Then we heard people say the Hospital was also giving them to the families of health care workers. Some may think “oh, well, that’s not too bad because maybe the Nurse will go home and infect their own family” – but keep in mind this was well before the 90 year olds at the Nursing Home got their shots! In these cases, once again, the shots that anyone healthy (or outside the lines of the order) got were shots that others did not.

The Hospitals PR person was on Social Media answering some questions so I sent a PM with my concerns about whether large numbers of vaccines were going outside of the Gov. Executive Orders. Like any good PR person, she danced and skirted the issue 3 or 4 times…but like any good Bulldog, I rephrased the question until I finally got the answer. Yes, they were giving vaccines outside of the Gov. Executive Order. But what did it matter? There was no enforcement. There was no PR by the Gov saying “if we find you taking vaccines from our most vulnerable and giving them to your families, we will fine you $10,000 for each instance. The point here is not our local “community” Hospital – evidence suggests this was done to a much greater degree all throughout the state. Some hospitals had to be reprimanded when they decided to try and make their own rules (remember, it’s a Federal Vaccine – paid for by US taxpayers!). It’s the old story – if we pass a candy bar down a long time of people and each of them takes just a little bite – there is none left at the end! I’m sure these people getting vaccines were happy – and, in their minds (and in reality) they were doing nothing wrong. It was the System (the Gov) who was doing wrong by allowing it all to happen.

At our local Board of Health the vaccines just showed up one day. Yes, they just landed. No person to contact (at State) about them. No software program to keep track. No email. NOTHING – just vaccines showing up at their doorstep.

It’s hard to imagine but this is exactly what happened and it illustrates just a small part of the chaos involved. A stripped down DOH gets thousands of vaccines with no idea what the plan is! If I remember correctly, it was 3,000 doses on the first delivery, yet the basic demand for vaccines was unlimited (since you can cross county lines). A basic idea is that 150,000 of us were qualified and waiting in the local area. That would mean 300,000 doses – the county next to us would need the same. So, what was the Dept of Health supposed to do?

This isn’t leadership. It’s embarrassing to think this happened in the USA – given TRILLIONS of dollars in free money awarded to states and business….leyet the State couldn’t provide a relatively simple database system and apps? The DOH was left hanging out to dry – and so starts the next chapter in the Florida COVID Lottery, Sale, Flea Market and Mob Scene. With no tools in their shed, the DOH scrambled and used EventBrite – a wed based system you’d use to set up your local Club Meeting – to schedule Vaccines! To do this they created an “Event/Meeting” with 1,000 attendees (on three separate days with tickets going to the first-come, first served. But wait! How would the public even know there were vaccines available? How would the “most vulnerable” those who are very old or very sick, know? This population is not on Facebook or Next-door. Well – there was no time to worry about such details – the shots had to go in arms, so EventBrite became the only way locals could get a vaccine.

This, of course, favored the connected and tech-savvy…with NO priority either for age or co-morbidities or mortality from COVID. It also invited gaming of the system – which started immediately and continued for months. You see, just like getting tickets to a Springsteen Concert, the tickets for COVID Vaccines went to those with the most computing power and best connections. Pictures were posted of people in multiple states – each with multiple devices – all ready to go at the very second the “tickets” were released. It goes without saying that said vaccine were gone within one minute or less. Thousands, or tens of thousands, were let 1/2 way in – that is, EventBrite would allow them to submit their form – tell them to await their ticket – and then give them the “Sold Out” screen a moment or two later.

This was not a one-off. As more vaccine arrived, more EventBrite events were posted and the vast majority of people failed over and over to get vaccines. This was beyond bad administration – it was downright cruel to have Seniors trying and failing day after day and week after week. Note: This was MANY weeks before the PUBLIX and other messes that hit the news. However, as we waited for our vaccines we saw troubling stories about upscaled HOA’s and others who were rumored to have gotten their vaccines en masse. It was also clear that most everywhere was in the same boat – no leadership from the State and complete chaos.

Nothing was Done Properly

Health Care workers – that is, your local Physicians Group, Dentist and the 10’s of thousands of others who are not directly working at the hospital….there was no program for them to get vaccines! I know…this sounds impossible. However, we had the posts, tweets and other direct evidence from people with names and occupations claiming they could not get vaccines! This went on for a LONG time – at least 2 months after the Vaccines were 1st available. Even many nurses and other health care professionals that later traveled to Florida to help out with the mess – they couldn’t get a vaccine. Here, for example, is a critical care nurse unable to get a shot in Florida as of 2/17/2021. This was not a one-off. We head many stories from all different levels of medical professionals and even congregate settings (group homes, etc. for disabled, etc.).

The Biggest Lie – The Whole “Most Vulnerable” Thing?

From the very start and even today, DeSantis and his parrots say he “protected the most vulnerable” – the assumption or misinformation being that those in nursing homes, long term care facilities and other such situations were FIRST to get the Vaccine. After all, these are people with the 200X and greater risk of getting COVID and dying – they MUST have been singled out, right?

No. The big problem here is that people believe what the Gov. puts out as PR. As an example on the same subject, DeSantis got a lot of press when he said he was going to send National Guard “Strike Teams” to test every resident and worker in Care Homes. He admittedly never did. Under questioning months later he said the figure was 5 or 6 % – that’s a long way from 100% and a long way from protecting them. But now – he has the vaccine and he has all the Federal Money he wants and needs – surely he made sure to do our most vulnerable citizens? Well, I will let a picture speak for itself – this is the Government bragging about giving the first shots to the most vulnerable MONTHS after DeSantis donors and even the lucky (and tech savvy) public might win the lottery. Check out the date! Imagine – how clueless this Mayor had to be to BRAG about this? It just shows some of the disconnect.

Remember, many thousands were dying each month during the period between having plenty of Vaccine (for care homes) and when these were given. Not only is not “protecting the vulnerable” – it’s leaving them hanging as they had NO CHOICE. Other states quietly made sure vaccines went to the “right places” before tempting millions of 65 year olds with the possibility of getting one. Florida decided that people are ignorant – and that they would appeal to our most selfish instincts by letting us think that a chance of getting a vaccine (for ME) was better than an organized Public Health Program that would cut down deaths and hospitalizations.

Even I, a realist and cynic (given what I had seen) could not imagine that it took this long to do this population. I knew that vast populations were ignored – all the elders I often see in my volunteer jobs….no one was knocking on their doors and they certainly didn’t have multiple devices nor the tech skills (nor even the basic information) to know how to get a vaccine.

Myself and the thousands of others watching this were aghast- we were definitely making noise to ALL the authorities we could contact. I was begging for vaccines to be given to the eldest and co-morbid, having done the calculations which told me that MANY more Floridians would be dying given the ongoing Chaos.

As some real life examples, neither myself nor my 70-something neighbors could get a vaccine. I finally figured out a way to obtain one 90 minutes away in a county with less demand. Some ended up driving as long as 6 hours – of course, impossible for the truly vulnerable. My neighbors, multi-generation Floridian professionals, could not get a vaccine – they tried the County and various Doctors and then Publix when that Supermarket Chain was given exclusive or semi-exclusive rights to distribute vaccines.

No Publix Story Here

As to the exact story of Publix – some of which has been in the Media, I am not going to write much about it – except to say that Publix wasn’t even in the picture during the beginning of this mess. My guess is that, given the tossing of the vaccine and logistics plan, DeSantis hoped that he could “privatize” the distribution of the vaccine with one stroke of the pen. It didn’t work. Publix was the same mess as DOH – people waking up at 6am (when Public opened registration for shots) and failing day after day to find an appointment.

What I can say about Publix is that the narratives fit perfectly into all the rest of the nightmare – they were only available at certain Stores – and in very limited quantity before mid-April. It was just one more stab at DeSantis trying to get someone else to do the work that he failed at.

Favoritism – True or False

Were vaccines and tests in Florida shunted to the wealthy and to donors and friends of DeSantis? Of course they were. There are plenty of stories reporting on these – a few of them happened in places where we were on the waiting list. Manatee Country, with 150,000 on a “lottery” system waiting, had a “pop-up” clinic in an upscale area built by a top DeSantis donor – and the records (texts, emails) of the country commissioners rubbing their hands together (Gov. showed up that day) are available. In fact, one Commish started a VIP list of her and her contacts and friends to get special access – meanwhile, 150K others waited for the lottery – and it makes sense to say some ended up in the hospital and/or dying due to having to wait. When challenged about this, DeSantis said “You better not complain or I’ll take them away from you too” (my paraphrase). In any sane world, this would be enough to have a leader tried and impeached – but in Florida it’s accepted and Business as Usual.

The truth of the matter is that most of the dying and hospitalized are unseen…out of sight, out of mind. Many are likely in long term care facilities with hospice centers attached or nearby. Others may be elder retirees with little family left…and still others have left the state (they were snowbirds and.or tourists) and therefore not counted or thought about in Florida. For DeSantis, it seemed, it was all about the numbers that he could claim. If 10,000 people elsewhere died as the result of Floridians or Tourists infecting them, that meant nothing – as long as it didn’t add to “Florida Resident” totals….speaking of which, it’s very different to define a “Florida Resident”. But that’s a story for another time.

THIS MARKS THE CURRENT END – BOOKMARK FOR MORE LATER. MUCH MORE TO COME.

 

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