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Miami Mayor Francis Suarez Wants Residency Restrictions For COVID-19 Vaccinations

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) - Calling it a "Miami First" policy, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez wants a residency restriction so that only those that live in Miami can receive a COVID-19 vaccination within city limits.

Mayor Francis Suarez pitched the idea at a city commission meeting Thursday as plans are being made for people to start receiving vaccinations at Marlins Park next week.

Federal regulations and guidance from emergency managers agree that there cannot be residency requirements for receiving the vaccine. But Suarez requested that the city manager and attorney "take all legal steps necessary to prevent non-residents of the city of Miami from receiving vaccines prior to the elderly and vulnerable population of our community and the general population of our city."

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Florida's policy set by Gov. Ron DeSantis limits vaccinations to people 65 and over, rescue and healthcare workers, and people that hospitals determine have conditions severe enough to receive early vaccinations.

Florida's Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz came out firmly against residency requirements during a meeting of the House Pandemic and Public Emergencies Committee in Tallahassee on Thursday.

"You can't do that," Moskowitz said. "We got a dozen-plus fiscally constrained counties. People are going to have to cross county lines. We have transient populations here in the state. We can't do that sort of stuff. It will have major implications down the road."

At Marlins Park, government agencies are planning to move the current coronavirus testing site to one of the ballpark's parking garages. Vaccinations will be set up on a parking lot just west of the stadium.

The state is also administering the vaccine at Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami-Dade County. County officials have been told the two stadium sites will receive 7,000 doses each of the vaccine next week.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins, whose district includes parts of Miami, called it a bad idea to let cities reserve vaccine doses for their residents.

"We shouldn't allow municipal borders to limit a person's access to life-saving vaccines based on which side of the street they live on," she said.

Also on Thursday, Moskowitz announced plans for a statewide appointment system for COVID-19 vaccinations should be ready within weeks.

"We're working on a registration system that we plan to launch in the coming weeks to help integrate site registration and fix some of the problems that we've all read about," he said.

The design of a statewide online portal is still under discussion and will be made available to counties — who are not required to use the system — to help them coordinate vaccinations.

As of Wednesday, about 774,000 Floridians had at least one shot of two vaccines approved by the federal government. More than 1.5 million people have tested positive for the virus in the state since the pandemic began; nearly 24,000 have died.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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