Thu. Jan 27th, 2022
Florida issued a $3.5 million fine against a county that enforced COVID-19 vaccine passports
  • In April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned government agencies from imposing vaccine passports.
  • On Tuesday, the state fined Leon County over $3.5 million for violating that policy. 
  • Leon County fired 14 employees who did not show proof of vaccination by the October 1 deadline. 

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A Florida county was fined over $3.5 million by the state’s health department for violating Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive order forbidding vaccine passports.

In a press release, the Florida Department of Health said it fined Leon County $3,570,000 for “714 instances of violating Florida’s ban on vaccine passports,” and the ultimate firing of 14 people who refused or failed to comply with a mandate to provide proof of vaccination. 

“It is unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida law, infringed on current and former employees’ medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions,” DeSantis said in the press release. “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.”

According to the health department, In July, Leon County required that their employees provide proof of vaccination to the human resources by October 1. Three days after the deadline, on October 4, the county fired 14 people for failing to comply with their requirements. 

DeSantis signed an executive order in April banning state agencies and local businesses from issuing “vaccine passports.”

—Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 12, 2021

The three state lawmakers who represent Leon County have criticized the fine, WCTV reported. 

“We can only move past this pandemic by ensuring everyone eligible is vaccinated to keep Floridians safe,” said Representative Ramon Alexander. “This is an overreach of state government and the Governor has gone too far.”

Leon County did not respond to Insider’s request for comment, but County Administrator Vince Long told WCTV that “there is a genuine disagreement about the applicability of the statute and rule, and the County will enforce its rights using any remedies available at law, if necessary.”

In a press briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said DeSantis’s announcement to fine the county alongside Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning vaccine mandates “fit a familiar pattern that we’ve seen of putting politics ahead of public health.”

“Over 700,000 American lives have been lost due to COVID-19, including more than 56,000 in Florida and over 68,000 in Texas. And every leader should be focused on supporting efforts to save lives and end the pandemic,” Psaki said. “Why would you be taking steps that prevent the saving of lives, that make it more difficult to save lives in — across the country or in any state?”

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has tried to impose measures that ban COVID-19 policies. Last month, a judge ruled the school districts in the state could impose mask mandates, stating that DeSantis did not have the authority to issue an order banning them from doing so. 

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