October 24, 2021

Leon County, Florida, Was Fined Tens of millions for Its Vaccine Mandate. People Are Pissed.

4 min read

The continued feud between state and native officers in Florida over vaccine mandates escalated on Tuesday when one county was hit with a whopping $3.57 million positive for requiring COVID jabs for all workers.

The Florida Division of Well being issued the fine against Leon County—dwelling to the state’s capital, Tallahassee—over its “blatant violation” of Florida’s controversial “vaccine passport” legislation that prohibits governments and companies from requiring residents to point out proof they have been vaccinated towards the coronavirus. The discover states that the county broke the legislation 714 instances in making all municipal workers present proof they’d been vaccinated. Fourteen staff have been fired after refusing to get jabbed.

“It’s unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida legislation, infringed on present and former workers’ medical privateness, and fired loyal public servants due to their private well being choices,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement announcing the fines. “We’ll proceed combating for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Division of Well being will proceed to implement the legislation. We’re going to face up for Floridians’’ jobs, arise for Floridians’ livelihoods, and arise for freedom.”

The hefty positive is the primary below the Florida legislation towards mandates that was handed in Could. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an government order on Monday barring any entity from implementing a vaccine mandate on its workers, and inspired different state leaders to do the identical.

Florida and Texas’ current push to ban COVID vaccine mandates has even caught the eye of the White Home. During a Tuesday press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki accused Abbott and DeSantis of “taking steps that stop the saving of lives.”

Regardless of threats from the state, Leon County Administrator Vice Lengthy instituted a vaccine requirement for his workers in July. On Oct. 6, the Florida Division of Well being Division Director Douglas Woodlief notified Lengthy he was in violation of the legislation after the county fired a number of workers for refusing to adjust to the mandate.

Some state officers expressed their outrage over the positive. Rep. Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) known as it “an overreach of state authorities,” whereas Sen. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) blasted Abbott for “spending his time punishing counties working to maintain their residents secure.”

“Unbelievable!” Ausley mentioned in a press release. “We don’t want the State bullying our communities or personal companies who’re merely making an attempt to serve the folks and get on the opposite aspect of this pandemic. It’s going to take all of us standing collectively to make this occur.”

Lengthy mentioned he hadn’t even heard concerning the well being division’s determination till he noticed media studies on it.

“There’s a real disagreement concerning the applicability of the statute and rule, and the County will implement its rights utilizing any treatments accessible at legislation, if crucial,” Lengthy mentioned.

Leon County residents are additionally pissed concerning the positive.

“It is all simply political posturing,” ​​Christopher Hyperlink, a Tallahassee resident, advised The Every day Beast on Tuesday. “ It is not sensible and solely hurts the taxpayer. The truth that the higher good for the well being of the state is so wrongly politicized is insane. The crazies have taken over, actually.”

One other Tallahassee resident, who wished to stay nameless for worry {of professional} retaliation, added to The Every day Beast that she “wished the battle was towards stopping the coronavirus—not towards political leaders who really feel like they should appease their base.”

“This pandemic has been occurring for over a yr, and I’ve by no means actually felt just like the precedence in Florida was about saving lives. Simply careers,” the resident added.

The positive is the primary public indication that DeSantis intends to comply with by on his menace to “defend” Floridians towards vaccine mandates. Final month, DeSantis promised that he would begin issuing $5,000 fines to any authorities company, enterprise, or faculty that attempted to drive residents to point out proof of vaccination, stating that the requirement might create a multi-class system.

“One, I’m vaccinated, I’m offended that somebody would make me present one thing simply to go to a restaurant or simply to stay life,” DeSantis said during a Sept. 3 press conference. “My view is we obtained to guard folks’s potential to stay their lives. I don’t need a biomedical safety state through which are consistently having to do that simply to have the ability to stay on a regular basis life.”

On Tuesday, well being officers famous that the specter of multi-million greenback fines has already prompted one native authorities to reverse its stance on vaccine mandates. Final week, the Metropolis of Gainesville rescinded its worker vaccination mandate after the Florida Division of Well being notified the municipality it had presumably violated state legislation.

“This reversal additionally follows an Eighth Judicial Circuit Court docket momentary injunction stopping vaccine mandates for metropolis workers,” the well being division mentioned in a Tuesday assertion.

According to state law, after the well being division points the discover of violation, a listening to could also be held earlier than an administrative legislation decide. As soon as the ultimate order is issued, nonetheless, Leon County has 30 days to pay the fine.

“We’re assured that the enforcement motion taken by the Florida division of well being is lawful, and Leon County’s termination of loyal workers as a result of private medical choices is against the law,” DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw advised The Every day Beast on Tuesday.

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