Florida fines county $3.5 million for mandating vaccines

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The county authorities that’s house to Florida’s capital was fined $3.5 million Tuesday by state well being officers for requiring its workers to get COVID-19 vaccines and for firing 14 employees who did not get the pictures.

The Florida Division of Well being issued the positive for Leon County, saying the municipality violated Florida’s “vaccine passport” regulation which prohibits companies and governments from requiring folks to indicate proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

“These are those that, presumably, have been serving all through this complete time and now impulsively they’re principally getting kicked to the curb,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stated at a information convention in St. Petersburg Seaside.

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

The regulation took impact final month and can lead to a $5,000 positive per violation. It’s being challenged in court docket and conflicts with a Biden administration order that firms with greater than 100 workers require their employees to be vaccinated or face weekly testing.

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In a press release, Leon County Administrator Vincent Lengthy stated he was made conscious of the positive by media experiences.

“There’s a real disagreement concerning the applicability of the statute and rule, and the county will implement its rights utilizing any treatments out there at regulation, if needed,” Lengthy stated.

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

Round 120 circumstances are being reviewed for violations, based on a public information request from the Orlando Sentinel.

In central Florida, the record consists of Orange County authorities; the Orange County Conference Middle; AdventHealth, one of many state’s largest healthcare methods; a number of performing arts venues; and the Amway Middle, which is house to the Orlando Magic and just lately hosted a live performance by Kinds whose tour mandated that attendees both be vaccinated or have a unfavourable COVID-19 take a look at.

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

In South Florida, these being investigated by the Florida Division of Well being embody the Marlins, the one main sports activities staff on the record; the 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 Competition in Tampa; and Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe. A number of cruise ship firms additionally made the record regardless of a federal court docket order that has prevented enforcement of the regulation in opposition to Norwegian Cruise Strains.

Throughout his information convention on Tuesday, DeSantis stated his administration, in an effort to keep away from firings, had labored with officers in Orange County and Gainesville, which additionally applied vaccine necessities for workers.

The Broward Middle for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale asks clients to offer documentation of a current unfavourable COVID-19 take a look at, with the choice of as a substitute submitting proof they’re totally vaccinated. The coverage complies with feedback made by DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw, stated Kelley Shanley, president and CEO of the Broward Middle.

Throughout an Aug. 27 interview with the Florida Occasions-Union, Pushaw stated the regulation “solely prohibits companies from requiring proof of vaccination from clients as a situation of entry or service.”

“If concert-goers can present a unfavourable COVID take a look at as a substitute of a vaccine passport, that’s acceptable underneath the regulation,” she stated. “Individuals who wish to present proof of vaccination as a substitute of a COVID take a look at are free to do this. It simply can’t be compelled.”

Requested by the Sentinel on Monday if companies or companies that allowed a testing choice along with a vaccine requirement have been in compliance with the regulation, Pushaw stated the regulation states that “obligatory vaccine passports are prohibited, however different COVID protocols should not essentially prohibited.”

“An investigation will not be a discovering of a violation,” Pushaw stated.

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