DeSantis’ Department of Health Makes Move, Fines ‘Lawless’ Leon County $3.5 Million for Ignoring State Vaccine Mandate Ban

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Under Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ leadership, the Florida Department of Health is taking action today. It is being reported that Leon County has attempted to go against the Governor’s ban on “vaccine passports”. The action taken so far is a fine of $3.5 million dollars.

Gainesville and Orange County had tried similar mandates and at least Orange County has rescinded their mandate due to the ban by the Governor. It’s unsure what the status is of Gainesville at this time. DeSantis is empowering other Republican Governors like Texas’ Greg Abbott to follow in his footsteps.

Many red-state Governors have been afraid to go this far, fearing backlash from a Biden administration and special interest groups who often fund their re-election campaigns.

White House Press Secretary railed against Abbott and DeSantis:

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday accused Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida of “taking steps that prevent the saving of lives” with their opposition to vaccine mandates in their states.

“Governor Abbott’s executive order banning vaccine mandates – and I would also note the announcement by Governor DeSantis this morning, essentially banning the implementation of mandates – fit a familiar pattern that we’ve seen of putting politics ahead of public health,” Pskais said during the daily White House briefing. 

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

Read the full press release from FloridaHealth.gov below:

Tallahassee, Fla. —Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has issued a notice of violation to Leon County Government assessing fines totaling $3,570,000 for its blatant violation of the law relating to the ban of vaccine passports in our state. This fine has been assessed for 714 instances of violating Florida’s ban on vaccine passports. Leon County Government ultimate [sic] fired 14 employees. A copy of the Notice of Violation to Leon County can be found here.

“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,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “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.”

“Firing hard working employees over vaccine passports has real and lasting consequences. It leads to resentment in the workplace, and loss of employment impacts individual and public health,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “Individuals have every right to choose how to best protect themselves and their families, and the Department will continue to enforce this law.”

On July 28, Leon County Government mandated that its employees provide verification of vaccination to its human resources department no later than October 1. On October 4, Leon County terminated 14 employees for their refusal or failure [sic] comply with this requirement.  Leon County Government required 700 of their employees to provide this proof in order to keep their jobs.

While Leon County has broken the law and received notice of a multi-million dollar fine, other local governments have reversed course. Last week, after alerting the City of Gainesville of their possible violation of the vaccination passport ban in Florida, the Florida Department of Health received a response indicating the City of Gainesville rescinded its employee vaccine mandate. This reversal also follows an Eighth Judicial Circuit Court temporary injunction preventing vaccine mandates for city employees.

Last month, Governor DeSantis held an event to reinforce Florida’s commitment to defend public servants against government vaccine mandates. This past May, Governor DeSantis signed landmark legislation to ban vaccine passports in Florida. Senate Bill 2006 specifically bans governmental entities in Florida from requiring any person, including an employee, to provide proof of vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from their operations. The law imposes a $5,000 fine per violation.

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