Florida mayors defy DeSantis with mask, vaccine mandates


FILE – In this April 30, 2021, file photo surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Now that the pandemic appears to be waning and DeSantis is heading into his reelection campaign next year, he has emerged from the political uncertainty as one of the most prominent Republican governors and an early White House front-runner in 2024 among Donald Trump’s acolytes, if the former president doesn’t run again. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

MIAMI (AP) — As coronavirus cases continue to soar, two Florida mayors are announcing mask and vaccine mandates and defying the governor who is firmly opposed to any pandemic restrictions. 

Miami-Dade County’s mayor Daniella Levine Cava says masks will again be required at indoor county facilities following new federal guidelines recommending that even people vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear masks.

The mayor didn’t announce any mandates for businesses or restaurants but said she was strongly recommending that everyone wear masks in large crowds or close spaces.

Orange County’s mayor went a step further to require all 4,200 nonunion employees must be fully vaccinated by the end of September. That means county employees will need to have at least one shot by the end of August.

Requirement for union employees will be negotiated with bargaining units.

An executive order gives Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis the power to invalidate local measures and blocks government entities from requiring vaccination. It also bans any business or government entity from requiring proof of vaccination. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new local mandates.

On Tuesday, the CDC changed course on some masking guidelines and recommended that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in areas of high transmission. Officials cited new information revealing the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people.

According to the CDC, the entire state of Florida is considered a high transmission area with the state accounting for a fifth of the nation’s new coronavirus infections last week, more than any other state.

To date, Florida has confirmed nearly 2.5 million coronavirus cases. More than 38,000 people have died.

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