Statement by RPOF Executive Director Helen Aguirre Ferre
Re: Letter from Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to Governor Ron DeSantis related to the distribution of the COVID vaccine

Tallahassee, FL—”It’s nice to see that Commissioner Nikki Fried is taking time out of her vacation to send out an ill-informed, irresponsible letter on social media that prioritizes politics over helping Floridians who are interested in the vaccine. Frankly, she should be embarrassed to have signed this letter (let’s be honest – it was auto-penned).

“Either the Commissioner is asleep at the switch or she is intentionally sharing misinformation.

“Here are corrections to some of the most egregious lies in her letter:

  • Commissioner Fried incorrectly states that Florida has received over 1.2 million doses of the vaccine. However, this number includes projected vaccine deliveries in the future and is not the actual number of doses that have been sent to Florida. Florida continues to work with county health departments to ensure that shipments are utilized as quickly as possible.
  • In a letter dated December 30th, Commissioner Fried cites that yesterday the state had a 22.75% positivity rate, when in fact the positivity rate was 8.72%. Commissioner Fried is intentionally citing an obvious data outlier from December 28th, as pointed out in a press release issued by the Florida Department of Health (link here). Citing obvious data outliers is dangerous and inflammatory.
  • Commissioner Fried’s insinuation that the Governor is not properly utilizing the Florida National Guard is ridiculous. In fact, the Governor mobilized the Florida National Guard weeks ago to form strike teams with the Florida Department of Health to begin vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities, making Florida the first state in the nation to begin vaccinating long-term care residents. Since March, the Governor has mobilized the Florida National Guard to coordinate multiple facets of our state’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and they continue to operate state supported testing sites.

Just this morning, Governor DeSantis held a press conference at Kings Point in Delray Beach to provide an update regarding Week Three of Florida’s vaccine distribution plan and to kick off the vaccinations for 300 senior citizens 65 and over at Kings Point. At the event, the Governor was joined by Palm Beach County Mayor and Democrat Dave Kerner, Dr. Alina Alonso from the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, and staff and administrators from Kings Point, a community for seniors. Today’s event was a great example of the ongoing collaborative effort between the state of Florida, county health departments and community partners.

Since day one, all Commissioner Fried has done is politicized the pandemic. If Commissioner Fried actually cared about what is happening, she would take a lesson on leadership from Governor DeSantis to help unify and coordinate resources to achieve results for Floridians. She is clearly only interested in being a partisan hack– Floridians deserve better.

If Commissioner Fried is still confused and wants a briefing, she should call DEM Director Moskowitz– or Mayor Kerner who attended this morning’s 9 am press conference with the Governor – instead of rubber stamping a letter at 3pm which was written by her political team.