Wednesday, 20 Oct 2021

Florida fines county $3.5million for violating state's vaccine passport ban

A county in Florida has racked up over $3.5million in fines because it required county employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Leon County violated the state’s vaccine passport ban, a law Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis enacted in September, a total of 714 times, according to the state Department of Health.

Vincent Long, Leon County’s administrator, was sent notice of violation on October 6. In a statement on Tuesday, he said the actions were necessary given guidance from public health experts.

Long says the county is prepared to ‘enforce its rights using any remedies available’.

Under state law, government agencies that force a vaccine as a condition of employment can be fined $5,000 for every breach. The 714 violations totaled a $3.5million fine that the county must pay within 30 days.

Leon County first required all employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 on July 28, according to the state. Employees had until October 1 to show human resources proof of their vaccination.

According to the state, 700 county government employees provided such documentation. In total 14 employees were fired for their refusal or failure to do so and 30 employees received a medical or religious exemption.

Less than 2% of employees did not prove they received their vaccination.

‘It is unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida law, infringed on current and former employee’s medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions,’ Governor DeSantis stated.

‘We will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law. We’re going to stand up for Floridians’ jobs, stand up for Floridians’ livelihoods, and stand up for freedom,’ he said.

Long said the Governor’s stance on the issue ‘unfortunately appears to be less of a public health strategy and more about political strategy’.

DeSantis claims the law was issued to ‘stand up for freedom.’

The state’s new surgeon general Joseph Ladap added in a statement that firing employees over vaccine mandates has ‘real and lasting consequences’, saying it will lead to resentment in the workplace.

President Joe Biden’s administration is in the process of drafting a ruling that will require workers to be either fully vaccinated or tested regularly at companies with over 100 employees.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends the vaccine for those entering the workplace.

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