Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to arrive bearing gifts Thursday at the Kings Gate retirement community in Port Charlotte.
News of another 3,000 coveted COVID vaccine doses in Charlotte County was not announced ahead except to a few select groups including the Kings Gate community, the neighboring Maple Leaf residential community, Port Charlotte Village and some executive members of the local Republican Party. Maple Leaf flies the Canadian flag, and many of its residents could not leave Canada this winter.
Kings Gate told its members that vaccines will be administered Thursday through Saturday.
DeSantis has been making these vaccine trips since the vaccine was first offered in January, starting with The Villages retirement community in central Florida. Some of the trips have been to Republican strongholds, including Charlotte County. Others have been to rural areas not in easy reach of the Publix Pharmacy sites.
Kings Gate staff did not return calls for comment, and the main phone number rang without going to a voicemail system.
Local Republican Executive Committee Chairman Gene Murtha told The Daily Sun that he was waiting for more information. He had advised the party’s executive members that Kings Gate had cancelled their upcoming meeting at the clubhouse due to vaccine distribution.
Kings Gate email notices advised residents they would be first in line.
“Rest assured Kings Gate residents will receive priority,” the Kings Gate email stated.
Meanwhile, some 90,000 names in Charlotte County are on a vaccine waiting list run by the state. The county received 2,000 first doses this week, less than will be going to Kings Gate. Appointments for vaccination at the Publix sites statewide filled up rapidly Wednesday morning, leaving an untold number of vaccine seekers age 65 and over without an appointment.
It’s all good news, said Charlotte County Commissioner Stephen R. Deutsch.
“I see this as a plus,” Deutsch told The Daily Sun. “Maybe the county couldn’t handle the additional vaccine that quickly,” he suggested.
These 3,000 vaccines will mean the state will get to people on the waiting list that much sooner, he said.
At least one of DeSantis’ fellow Republican party members was not happy with the event.
“This is an outrageous disrespect of all of us who have been waiting for a callback for weeks!” wrote Harvey Goldstein, member of Charlotte County’s Republican Party executive committee. He also lives around the corner in Deep Creek, where he said most of the 10,000 residents are over 64. He is 82 and his wife is 77.
Goldstein heard of the event, because his party meeting was canceled.
“I have tried to find out how one can get on the list at Kings Gate to no avail,” he added.
An email to residents advised them to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and age.
Goldstein said he did not agree with Deutsch’s positive appraisal of the governor’s trip.
“He already got the vaccine,” Goldstein said.
State offices for the governor, Department of Health and Emergency Management did not return calls for comment. The county’s Communication Manager Brian Gleason said it appeared to be the governor’s event, not the county’s.