The state’s health department fined a Florida county over $3.5 million for violating Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order prohibiting vaccination passports.
The Florida Department of Health announced in a press release that Leon County was fined $3,570,000 for “714 instances of breaking Florida’s ban on vaccine passports,” and that 14 people were ultimately fired for refusing or failing to comply with a mandate to submit proof of immunization.
“It is intolerable that Leon County broke Florida law, invaded current and past employees’ medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions,” DeSantis said in a statement. “The Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law, and we will continue to fight for Floridians’ rights. We’re going to fight for Floridians’ jobs, their lives, and their freedom.”
According to the health department, Leon County ordered employees to produce proof of immunization to human resources by October 1st, which they did in July. On October 4, three days beyond the deadline, the county fired 14 workers for failing to meet their obligations.
In April, DeSantis signed an executive order prohibiting state and local government organizations from providing “vaccine passports.”
—Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 12, 2021
According to WCTV, the fine has been slammed by the three state politicians who represent Leon County.
Representative Ramon Alexander stated, “We can only move past this pandemic by ensuring that everyone who is eligible is vaccinated to keep Floridians safe.”
“This is a state government overreach, and the Governor has gone too far.”
“There is a genuine debate over the applicability of the statute and rule,” County Administrator Vince Long told WCTV, “and the County will enforce its rights through whatever remedies available under law, if necessary.”
DeSantis’ announcement to punish the county, coupled with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order barring vaccine mandates, “follow a familiar pattern that we’ve seen of putting politics before of public health,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
“COVID-19 has claimed the lives of approximately 700,000 Americans, including over 56,000 in Florida and over 68,000 in Texas. Every leader should be focused on helping to preserve lives and put a stop to the pandemic “Psaki stated. “Why would you take actions to prevent people from being saved, to make it more difficult to save people in — across the country or in any state?”
This isn’t the first time DeSantis has attempted to implement COVID-19 policy bans. A judge decided last month that school districts in the state could impose mask regulations, ruling that DeSantis lacked the jurisdiction to issue an order prohibiting them.