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Florida Fines Key County $3.5 Million For Mandating COVID-19 Vaccines

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida has issued its first superb to a county it says violated a brand new state legislation banning coronavirus vaccine mandates and for firing 14 employees who did not get the pictures.

The Florida Division of Well being on Tuesday issued the $3.5 million superb for Leon County, residence to the state capital, saying the municipality violated Florida’s “vaccine passport” legislation, which prohibits companies and governments from requiring folks to indicate proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

“These are people who, presumably, have been serving all through this complete time and now swiftly they’re principally getting kicked to the curb,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mentioned at a information convention in St. Pete Seashore.

Later, the governor tweeted, “Nobody ought to lose their jobs due to COVID pictures.”

The state of Florida is reportedly investigating dozens of native governments, performing arts facilities, the Miami Marlins, a legislation enforcement counter-terrorism unit and a live performance by singer Harry Kinds for suspected violations of the legislation enacted by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

SOPA Photographs through Getty Photographs

The legislation took impact final month and can lead to a $5,000 superb per violation. It’s being challenged in courtroom and conflicts with a Biden administration order that corporations with greater than 100 staff require their employees to be vaccinated or face weekly testing.

In a press release, Leon County Administrator Vincent Lengthy mentioned the county believes its vaccination requirement is legally justifiable and essential to maintain folks secure.

“The governor’s place on this occasion sadly seems to be much less of a public well being technique and extra about political technique,” he mentioned.

Democratic lawmakers from Tallahassee derided the choice to situation a superb, saying native governments ought to have the authority to guard their residents as they see match.

“Unbelievable! We don’t want the state bullying our communities or personal companies who’re merely attempting to serve the folks and get on the opposite facet of this pandemic,” mentioned Florida Sen. Loranne Ausley.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an government order Monday barring any entity, together with personal enterprise, from imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on employees and referred to as on state lawmakers to cross the same ban into legislation.

On the White Home on Tuesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki in contrast the actions of the Florida and Texas governors.

“Governor Abbott’s government order banning mandates and I might additionally observe announcement by Governor DeSantis this morning, primarily, banning the implementation of mandates, match a well-recognized sample that we’ve seen of placing politics forward of public well being,” Psaki mentioned throughout a briefing.

The choice to superb Leon County comes a day after the Orlando Sentinel reported the state of Florida is investigating dozens of native governments, performing arts facilities, the Miami Marlins, a legislation enforcement counter-terrorism unit and a live performance by singer Harry Kinds for suspected violations of the legislation.

Round 120 instances are being reviewed for violations, in accordance with a public data request from the Orlando Sentinel.

In central Florida, the record consists of Orange County authorities; the Orange County Conference Heart; AdventHealth, one of many state’s largest well being care techniques; a number of performing arts venues; and the Amway Heart, which is residence to the Orlando Magic and just lately hosted a live performance by Kinds whose tour mandated that attendees both be vaccinated or have a detrimental COVID-19 check.

“At this level … the courts haven’t reached the ultimate determination, however the indication is that the Florida legislation flies within the face of our Florida Structure and maybe within the face of widespread sense,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings advised the newspaper.

In South Florida, these being investigated by the Florida Division of Well being embrace the Marlins, the one main sports activities group on the record; town of Miramar; the Plantation Police Division; and several other performing arts venues.

Additionally on the record, across the state, are a Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement counter-terrorism unit in Jacksonville; the Gasparilla Music Pageant in Tampa; and Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe. A number of cruise ship corporations additionally made the record regardless of a federal courtroom order that has prevented enforcement of the legislation towards Norwegian Cruise Strains.