Sunday, November 28, 2021

Florida fines key county $3.5 million for mandating vaccines

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida has issued its first fine to a county it says violated a new state law banning a coronavirus vaccine mandate and shooting 14 workers who failed to get shots Is.

Florida’s Department of Health on Tuesday issued a $3.5 million fine for the state capital, Leon County, saying the municipality violated Florida’s “vaccine passport” law, which mandates businesses and governments to provide people with COVID-19 vaccinations. prevents the need to show proof of

“These are people who, probably, have been serving this whole time and now all of a sudden they’re basically on the curb,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told a news conference in St. Pete Beach.

Later, the governor tweeted, “No one should lose their job because of COVID shots.”

The law went into effect last month and could result in a fine of up to $5,000 per violation. It is being challenged in court and is in opposition to a Biden administration order requiring companies with more than 100 employees to vaccinate their employees or face weekly tests.

In a statement, Lyon County Administrator Vincent Long said the county believes its vaccination requirement is legally justified and necessary to keep people safe.

“The governor’s position in this instance unfortunately appears to be less of a public health strategy and more of a political strategy,” he said.

Watch: Saki says government is putting health ‘ahead of politics’ with Abbott vaccine mandate ban

Democratic lawmakers from Tallahassee scoffed at the decision to issue the fines, saying local governments should be empowered to protect their residents as they see fit.

“Unbelievable! We don’t need a state bullying our communities or private businesses that are only trying to serve people and get to the other side of this pandemic,” said Florida Sen. Lorraine Ausley.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Monday barring any entity, including private business, from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on workers and calling on state lawmakers to pass similar restrictions into law. Gaya.

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At the White House on Tuesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki compared the actions of the governors of Florida and Texas.

“Governor Abbott’s executive order bans the mandate and I will also note the announcement made by Governor DeSantis this morning, essentially, banning the implementation of the mandate, fitting a familiar pattern,” Psaki said during a briefing. does what we have seen by looking at politics beyond public health.” .

Leon County’s decision to impose fines comes a day after the Orlando Sentinel reported that the state of Florida was holding dozens of local governments, performing arts centers, the Miami Marlins, a law enforcement counter-terrorism unit and a concert for suspected violations by singer Harry Styles. Checking out the program. of law.

According to a public records request from the Orlando Sentinel, about 120 cases are being reviewed for violations.

Read more: COVID vaccine mandate for New York City teachers and staff takes effect

In central Florida, the list includes Orange County Gov; Orange County Convention Center; AdventHealth, one of the state’s largest health care systems; several performing arts venues; and Amway Center, which is home to the Orlando Magic and recently hosted a concert by Styles, whose tour mandates that attendees either be vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings told the newspaper, “At this point … the courts have not reached a final decision, but there are indications that Florida law is contrary to our Florida Constitution and perhaps contrary to common sense.”

In South Florida, the Marlins are the only major sports team on the list being investigated by the Florida Department of Health; Miramar city; Plantation Police Department; and several performing arts venues.

Also on the list, across the state, is a Florida Department of Law Enforcement Counter-Terrorism Unit in Jacksonville; Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa; and Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe. Several cruise ship companies also made the list despite a federal court order that has prevented Norwegian Cruise Lines from enforcing the law.

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