ENGLEWOOD — Did Boca Royale Golf & Country Club in Sarasota County, Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County and Kings Gate Golf & Country Club in Charlotte County receive preferential access for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Questions are being raised, with one congressman suggesting the Department of Justice should look into how Gov. Ron DeSantis decided where some pop-up vaccine clinics took place.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist suggested DeSantis was “playing politics with vaccine distribution.”
DeSantis, in a news conference, defended the vaccine distribution.
That doesn’t seem fair to one Englewood resident.
“I have been trying for as long as vaccines have started up to get my elderly neighbors an appointment for a vaccine to no avail,” Kerry Ellis wrote in a letter to The Daily Sun.
“How is this a fair system for the elderly?” Ellis asked. “Is it the more affluent neighborhoods that can get it and to heck with everyone else. Sarasota County and the state of Florida should do more for the elderly over-75 before they allow 65-year-olds to receive the vaccine.”
Boca Royale homeowners, however, are praising the developer, Pat Neal of Neal Communities. According to a recent property manager newsletter, 99% of residents are “euphoric” and grateful to Neal.
“I was, however, really blown away from some critical feedback from that 1%,” the newsletter stated.
“Really!” it concluded with the word emphasized in bold print.
Residents of the upscale Lakewood Ranch, another Neal Communities development that spans Sarasota and Manatee counties, also had access to the vaccine.
A Neal Communities press release celebrated how Gov. Ron DeSantis called upon Neal to assist with a community vaccinations at Kings Gate in Port Charlotte for seniors who were eligible to receive the vaccinations.
Kings Gate, the press release noted, is retirement community where Neal Communities is currently building homes.
In response to criticisms, Neal stated in a press release, “We were heartened to see how enthusiastic Kings Gate residents were to offer assistance with the event, even if they weren’t yet eligible to get the vaccine themselves.
“It’s encouraging to see so many entities working together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” he stated.
Ivory Matthews, communications and governmental affairs director for Neal Communities, spent five days mobilizing and helping to set up a vaccination site in Charlotte County.
Neal Communities stated it sent out emails to Port Charlotte residents in Kings Gate, Deep Creek and Maple Leaf Estates, which is next to Kings Gate. Kings Gate provided “a logistically safe and central location to stage vaccinations” for seniors.
“Two days prior to the event (response) was less than the desired 3,000,” Neal Communities stated. “(Matthews) then sent emails to Boca Royale and Oak Forest in south Sarasota County to reach the 3,000 goal because we had ready access to a large list of people.”
Author Stephen King, a Casey Key resident, finds it suspect which subdivisions DeSantis has given easier access to the COVID vaccine.
“It seems possible — likely, even — that Ron DeSantis provided rich, Republican-leaning communities like Lakewood Ranch with priority vaccinations for political gain,” King posted Monday on Twitter.
King may be a Casey Key resident, but he drove to a Pasco County to a drive-thru for his vaccination, according to reports.
The governor’s office, after repeated attempts, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.