'I was not invited:' Hialeah mayor crashes DeSantis news conference

Carlos Hernandez steps up to podium after governor walks away
Posted at 11:09 AM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 12:56:54-05

Gov. Ron DeSantis went to Hialeah to announce an expansion to the state's COVID-19 vaccine plan to include all 31 Navarro Discount Pharmacy locations and all 35 CVS Pharmacy y Mas locations in Miami-Dade County.

"Look, we've got the murder's row here of elected officials," DeSantis said, introducing those standing around him.

Notably absent from the podium was Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, but he was in the audience.

After DeSantis finished speaking, Hernandez walked towards the governor.

"Governor, the mayor of Hialeah. How are you, sir?" Hernandez began. "I would like to speak."

DeSantis continued to leave and Hernandez stepped up to the podium.

"I was not invited to this," Hernandez said. "Just like I was not invited to a previous meeting, even though Hialeah is one of the cities most affected by COVID."

Hernandez appears to refer to a round-table discussion in July where the governor met with the mayors of Miami, Miami Gardens, Miami Beach, Doral, Pinecrest and Bal Harbour. Hialeah is the sixth-largest city in the state and the second-largest in Miami-Dade County.

"What I wanted to let the governor know is that local governments are ready to work to help CVS and these places distribute these vaccinations," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he feels his community isn't getting enough vaccines despite being one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

"It's not about politics, according to the governor," Hernandez said. "So I'm here to listen and to defend the city of Hialeah and try to get the most in our city, because we have not received the percentage of vaccines, according to our senior citizen population."

Hernandez also appeared to reference Rep. Charlie Crist's request for the DOJ to investigate DeSantis' vaccine distribution.

Ron DeSantis and Charlie Crist

Crist's letter mentioned a pop-up site in Manatee County, which is controversial because it's only open to residents living in two particular wealthy ZIP codes and includes a land development owned by a Republican who donated nearly a million dollars to DeSantis.

A reporter asked Hernandez about DeSantis inviting former county commissioner and rumored Hialeah mayoral candidate Esteban Bovo to stand at the podium.

"I was not invited, so if he's inviting people, not even elected officials, he shows, again, I don't care if he doesn't like me," Hernandez said before pivoting quickly back to the issue of vaccines.

"We're ready. We've been ready. We showed it the other day," Hernandez said. "We did 1,000 people in a few hours and they didn't have to go anywhere. We will go to them."