By Earnestine Thomas
At least once per week I shop at a Publix grocery store in my community. So when I read online that they would be dispensing the COVID-19 vaccine to residents 65 and older as announced by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, I got excited and shared the information. This is good news since everyone is looking forward to the time when we can feel more comfortable getting together with our family and friends again.
Listed on the Publix.com website are 18 of Florida’s 67 counties where appointments for the vaccine could be made. At the time of this writing, all appointments are fully booked. Much to my disappointment, Broward, the county where I live, did not make the list. Miami-Dade County to the immediate south was not listed either. However, Palm Beach, the county to the immediate north, was listed as was Monroe County to the immediate south of Miami-Dade.
Curiosity killed the cat and this revelation was killing me so I decided to do a little research.
According to Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, on January 23, 2021, the number of resident COVID-19 cases in the state is 1,619,288 and 25,293 deaths. Miami-Dade County has 354,477 cases and 4,730 deaths; Broward has 164,081 cases and 2,034 deaths; Palm Beach has 100,676 cases and 2,098 deaths; Monroe County has 4,894 cases and 39 deaths.
Miami-Dade and Broward Counties have the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Florida, and Miami-Dade has more deaths followed by Palm Beach and Broward.
Why did Publix neglect the counties with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in the entire state? What executive made the decision on which stores would dispense the vaccine? What data did they use? Who thinks it is logical to omit sending vaccines to a county with more than 350,000 cases and 4,000 deaths for one with less than 5,000 cases and 40 deaths?
The Florida Division of Elections website revealed even more disappointing information. Of the 18 counties where Publix is dispensing the COVID-19 vaccine only one, Palm Beach, where Mar-a-Lago is located, has a majority of Democratic registered voters. Yes! Seventeen of the 18 counties have a majority of Republican registered voters. Pause for a moment and let that sink in.
We have all probably lost someone to COVID-19 or know someone who has. And sadly, because of this virus, we could not be with and comfort our loved ones as they made their transition.
COVID-19 does not discriminate. It does not care if you are a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent. Perhaps it is time for Publix to do the same!