Marco police, fire chiefs placed on leave as city investigates access to Eventbrite vaccine system

Marco Island Police Chief Tracy L. Frazzano and Marco Island Fire-Rescue Chief Christopher Byrne have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation related to the Eventbrite vaccine registration system.

The allegations involve "access and use" of the registration system, the city announced in a news release late Monday afternoon.

Christopher Byrne returned to the MIFD, where he has spent virtually his entire career, as Fire Chief in September of 2020.

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The city of Marco Island told vaccine-seekers to use the Eventbrite system last week to schedule an appointment to get one of 200 available vaccine doses last Friday. The city's website, which linked to the Eventbrite system, crashed Wednesday under the demand for doses.

On Jan. 22, the city and Collier EMS administered for the first time fewer than 300 doses at Veterans' Community Park. The appointment slots, which also were scheduled through  Eventbrite, were filled within three minutes of being made available online on Jan. 20, according to the city.

"City Manager Mike McNees will continue the investigation over the next 48 hours before determining if disciplinary action is warranted," the city reported.

Byrne sent a text message Monday afternoon to the Marco Eagle in response to a request for comment.

"At this time I have no comment," Byrne said

As of Tuesday afternoon, Frazzano could not be reached for comment about the investigation.

The city said in a Facebook post earlier Monday it will not hold a vaccine clinic this week "due to issues with the reservation site" and that it will develop a better system to make appointments.

McNees said Monday night the city will make a report public after concluding the investigation. He declined to go into detail about the investigation until it is completed.

"I want to get to the bottom of all the facts and make them public," McNees said.

McNees told councilors during a City Council meeting Monday night there is not a dispute of the facts.

"There are some very specific things that I'm looking at that happened," McNees said.

Kristine Hollingsworth, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health in Collier County, declined to comment. She said DOH in Collier County allocates vaccines to local EMS to distribute to the community. 

"The Florida Department of Health in Collier County does not comment on ongoing investigations," Hollingsworth wrote in an email Tuesday.

Collier County EMS Chief Tabatha Butcher declined to answer questions about the investigation. She said Collier County EMS assisted with the administration of the vaccines last week.

"All other inquiries will need to be directed to the city of Marco," Butcher wrote in an email Tuesday.

McNees said during the City Council meeting the city is working on a new vaccine registration system that will give priority to Marco's oldest residents.

The city's two previous vaccine clinics have allowed people from outside of Marco to register with the same level of priority as Marco residents as long as they are Florida residents.

"It makes it more manageable (that) we don't have people all over Southwest Florida trying to overwhelm the island to get 200 or 300 vaccinations," McNees said.

McNees said the city won't help distribute vaccinations this week on the island.

"We didn't want to try to spin something up quickly this week with a whole new set of priorities and a whole new system. One misstep was enough," McNees said.

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