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Trump slams politicians who won’t say they got booster shots

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is slamming politicians who refuse to say whether they have received COVID-19 booster shots as “gutless.”

“You gotta say it. Whether you had it or not, say it,” Trump said in an interview that aired Tuesday night on the conservative One America News Network.

Trump, who was booed last month by supporters after revealing he had gotten a booster shot, has become increasingly vocal in calling out those who have questioned the vaccines’ efficacy and safety. It’s a change in posture for Trump as he eyes another run for the White House and faces potential competition from a long list of possible Republican challengers.

Even though the vaccines were developed during the Trump administration, they remain deeply unpopular with large segments of the Republican base, fueled in part by rampant disinformation. Trump, while in office, consistently downplayed the risk posed by COVID-19 and he received his vaccine privately, even as other members of his administration were inoculated in public to help boost confidence in the shots.

“Well, I’ve taken it. I’ve had the booster,” Trump said in the interview. “I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get the booster?’ …. And they, ‘Oh, oh,’ they’re answering it — like in other words, the answer is ‘Yes,’ but they don’t want to say it. Because they’re gutless.”

Trump did not name names, and his spokespeople did not immediately respond to questions about which politicians he was referencing. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rising star in the Republican Party who is often mentioned as a possible 2024 presidential contender, has notably declined to say whether he has received a booster.

“So I’ve done whatever I did, the normal shot. And, you know, that, at the end of the day, is people’s individual decisions about what they want to do,” DeSantis told Fox News Channel host Maria Bartiromo last month.

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Many House Republicans, including top Trump allies, have also declined to disclose their vaccination status. Some such as Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene are open about their refusal to get it.

By criticizing other politicians reluctant to disclose their vaccination status, Trump appears to be looking to turn the shots into a political issue that allows him to promote his administration’s success in facilitating their development while creating a contrast with other possible 2024 GOP candidates loath to upset the base.

In recent weeks, the highly contagious omicron variant has driven record case counts, overwhelmed hospitals and disrupted essential services because of staffing shortages. The booster has been shown to significantly bolster immune protection against the variant, and the Biden White House has urged Americans to take the shots.

In an interview last month, Trump seemed to acknowledge the risk many of his supporters were taking by not getting vaccinated, though he has repeatedly said he is against mandating the shots.

“This was going to ravage the country far beyond what it is right now. Take credit for it. Take credit for it. … Don’t let them take it away. Don’t take it away from ourselves,” he said in December during an appearance with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly when Trump first revealed he had received the booster and was booed by some in the crowd.

In an interview with conservative commentator Candace Owens, Trump stressed how well the vaccines work at preventing hospitalization and serious illness.

“The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take their vaccine,” he told her. “People aren’t dying when they take their vaccine.”

Owens, a longtime Trump supporter, later sought to undermine Trump’s support of the vaccines in the interview by pointing to his age, 75.

But in the OAN interview, Trump did not relent.

“The fact is that I think the vaccine has saved tens of millions of people throughout the world. I have had absolutely no side effects,” he said. Still, he repeated his opinion that young people, for whom serious complications for the virus are rare, should not be vaccinated, even though health officials have urged everyone who is eligible to get the shots.

Trump was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October 2020, weeks before the presidential election, and received experimental monoclonal antibody treatment.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Florida police officer injured in crash

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A Florida police officer was hospitalized Monday evening after a crash with two other vehicles, according to authorities.

At around 5:15 p.m., a crash involving an Ocala officer was reported outside of a residential area at the intersection of West Silver Springs Boulevard and Southwest 23rd Avenue, Ocala Police Department said.

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The officer was listed as a “trauma alert” but is expected to be okay, OPD said.

No other serious injuries were reported.

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Ocala police are investigating the crash.

Jpedersen@orlandosentinel.com

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Brr! Orlando wakes up to coldest temperatures of the year

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Orlando residents woke up to a chilly start Tuesday morning, with temperatures projected to stay cold today.

Temperatures before sunrise were 42 degrees in the City Beautiful, which should later see temperature highs increase to 64 as skies are forecast to remain sunny, according to Maureen McCann From Spectrum of the News 13 weather team.

Tuesday’s low will fall back down to 45 in the evening.

“Future cast has us with sunshine for our Tuesday and clear skies tonight, but tomorrow a southeasterly wind will start to develop during the afternoon, and that is going to promote some warmer temperatures,” McCann said.

Sunshine is forecast for the rest of the week, with chances of showers re-emerging into skies by Friday with a 30% chance of rain.

Jpedersen@orlandosentinel.com

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1 dead, 4 injured after man opens fire outside Chicagoan Bar in NW Miami-Dade

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NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) – One person has died and four others were injured following a shooting outside a bar in Northwest Miami-Dade.

The shooting happened at the Chicagoan Bar, located at 10702 NW 7th Ave, at around midnight on Tuesday.

The deceased individual was reportedly drinking at the bar and refused to pay his bill.

Security eventually removed him from the bar.

He then drove away, returned to the bar, stopped in the middle of the street then began firing several rounds at the bar’s security, according to police.

Another security guard came from inside the bar and returned fire, killing the patron.

One of the security guards was shot and taken to a local hospital.

Three women were also caught in the crossfire — two of them were transported to the hospital while the third was treated on the scene after being grazed.

All victims taken to the hospital are in stable condition.

Several homicide detectives continue to investigate.

Those who frequent the area are advised to seek alternative routes until the scene has cleared.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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