ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis responded directly to Channel 9 on Friday about the state’s recent halt on supplying information to Orange County in relation to Florida’s database that tracks COVID-19 vaccine rates ZIP code.
When asked at a news conference in Lakeland by Channel 9 reporter Lauren Seabrook, the governor did not provide a direct explanation for the matter.
Instead, he referred Channel 9 to the Florida Department of Health, and added, “only certain issues get to my desk.”
“Do you feel the should have a right to see vaccination rates by ZIP code?” Seabrook asked DeSantis.
“You should talk to the department of health about it,” DeSantis said.
WATCH: Orange County won’t seek legal action after being cut off from state database for providing vaccine data
Channel 9 has been trying to do that for more than a month.
Weeks after Channel 9 first requested records providing a breakdown of COVID-19 vaccination numbers by ZIP code, Orange County finally turned over some of the data.
Orange County provided Channel 9 with three maps showing which communities have had the most access to the vaccine. The maps are public record and do not identify any personal information so they are not a HIPAA violation.
Vaccination rates by zip code are posted publicly in Connecticut, Arizona, Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York City, Los Angeles County, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
But after Orange County released the records, the state turned around and cut off the county’s access to the Florida Department of Health database.
“Orange County was advised that our access to the DOH database has been terminated as a result of our disclosing the requested information,” said Assistant County Attorney Sawsan Mohiuddin.
Orange County officials said Thursday that the county won’t seek legal action against the state over being cut off from the database.
The vaccination rates provided help Orange County determine where to put vaccine sites.
“I wish that relationship could be better between Tallahassee,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said.
You can see the most recent vaccination information provided to Channel 9 as to which ZIP codes have seen the highest and lowest vaccination rates below.
Demings said the data in the database showed that Orange County had higher vaccination rates by ZIP code then several other areas of the state.
Demings said he can’t explain the rationale behind the state’s decision to block them from the information.
“We want to be transparent with what we’re doing. I am not aware of any reason that the information couldn’t be shared,” he said.
Demings said thankfully the county has a good relationship with Orange County’s Health Officer, Dr. Raul Pino, and good intuition about the county’s needs. He said he just wishes the relationship was better with Tallahassee.
“That is where I believe that there’s some improvement that could occur. So I’m not sure who’s making the decisions,” Demings said.
Channel 9 asked the state department of health if it would like to comment on its decision to block out Orange County, but we have not heard back.