Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this week the state will be imposing $5,000 fines per violation toward cities and local municipalities that implement vaccine mandates for their employers.
“People that have put in 10, 15, 20 years, and now they’re just going to get cast aside by some onerous mandate? That is wrong, and so we let it be known today, we’re going to be enforcing Florida law against that,” DeSantis said.
Numerous counties across Florida have already doubled down and said they are going forward with vaccine mandates for their employees. The city of Gainesville, Orange County, and Leon County are among some of the counties defying DeSantis.
“Unfortunately, and despite the tireless efforts of public health professionals, political rhetoric continues to dangerously exacerbate the fear and confusion about vaccinations,” said Leon County Administrator Vince Long. “In a public health emergency, clarity of information remains critical. This is why it is necessary that I clarify that vaccinations as a condition of employment in Leon County is legal and will remain in effect. We will continue to act responsibly to ensure our operational readiness to respond to the needs of our community and to keep our employees safe.”
DeSantis continued his comments from Alachua County, where Gainesville is located.
“What we are seeing out of Washington D.C. and local governments like the city of Gainesville and Orange County should alarm Floridians, and raises important questions — if you can have people like firefighters who put lives on the line every day forced to either lose their jobs or get the vaccine regardless of immunity, how does that protect our community or keep us safer?” DeSantis said in a press release. “It doesn’t … these big government mandates strip away people’s rights to make the best decision for themselves, be we are going to protect Floridians from federal and local government overreach.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who has mostly stayed quiet during the COVID pandemic regarding vaccines passports and vaccine mandates, has recently turned up the heat on COVID-related measures by fighting mask mandates in local schools.
Moody also said she believes a vaccine decision ought to be left to the individual while also saying a mandate is wrong.
“Seeking a vaccine is a decision based on personal medical history and individual circumstances,” said Moody. “It’s a decision I made earlier this year after consulting with my family and medical professionals. I want more eligible Floridians to seek out information about the vaccine and make a deliberate, informed decision about their health. However, the government forcing compliance by our first responders is wrong. I am proud to stand with Governor DeSantis against this local-government overreach and in support of our law enforcement officers.”
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Miami” by tsreptilien.