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Black prisoners don't matter to Leon County jails

Commentary by Edwan Holifield, MD |
February 25, 2021
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Tallahassee, FL - You are just a worthless Black prisoner, and we don't care about you.

That is the message that the white power structure in Leon County is sending to the prisoners in the Leon County jail. Your lives simply don't matter.

If you die from COVID-19, good riddance. It will save the public the expense involved in taking care of you.

Neither Tallahassee Mayor John Daily, County Commission Chair Rick Minor, County Administrator Vince Long, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) CEO Mark O'Bryant, the Leon County Health Department Director Claudia Blackburn, nor any lobbyist or member of the Leadership Tallahassee gang that run this town apparently give a damn about unvaccinated prisoners.

CDC guidelines updated on February 16, 2021 clearly state that "jurisdictions are encouraged to vaccinate staff and incarcerated/detained persons of correctional or detention facilities at the same time because of their shared increased risk of disease."

Note that prisoners maintaining social distance is impossible in the Leon County jail.

None of the discussions on the Friday Covid-19 webinars moderated by lobbyist Gary Yordon and others are much more than tepid propaganda for TMH marketing.

There is no discussion of thousands of doses going to private TMH physician partners who can then distribute the vaccine to their private patients with no effective monitoring in place.

Only people fortunate to have health insurance and private doctors are eligible for this vaccine. That means that many Black, brown, and poor people are excluded from these doses of vaccines.

All of the vaccine should go to public health departments, public clinics, or institutions open to the public, such as churches with no membership requirements.

It certainly should not go to powerful, wealthy TMH board members such as Sally Bradshaw, who reportedly received the vaccine at age 55. It certainly should not go to TMH marketing people no questions asked.

Getting the vaccine in Leon County depends to a large extent on who you know. That is why the vaccine has gone disproportionately to the white, the rich and the powerful.

Blacks dying as a matter of public policy is nothing new to this town. Think of all the Blacks who died because city-owned TMH would not admit them to the hospital.

Blacks dying because they have not received COVID testing or the vaccine is the continuation of a tradition that has existed in Tallahassee for decades.