Vaccine mandate showdown coming in Florida

Coronavirus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – Vaccine mandates remain in place for employees of Leon County, following Gov. DeSantis’ threat of a $5,000 fine per employee but county administrators are not backing down.

Leon County Administrator Vince Long said the county is sticking with a requirement that all employees be vaccinated or face being fired on Oct. 1.

“We have a responsibility to ensure a ready workforce in Leon County to ensure that our workforce is ready and prepared to respond to the needs of our community,” said Long.

But Gov. DeSantis continues to see the mandate differently.

“We shouldn’t deprive someone of their livelihoods and their jobs based on this issue,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

Language in an emergency management bill this year appears to allow the governor to invalidate city and county measures. 

Long said federal decisions are on the county’s side.

“Well, the courts have held that vaccinations do not infringe on people’s rights or liberties. So, that’s what we hang our hat on,” said Long.

So far there have been 36 exemptions granted to employees, mostly for medical reasons however, having had the virus won’t get you an exemption. 

We spoke with one employee who wanted to remain anonymous, he thinks the mandate is going too far.

“I think that’s one step away from telling somebody, hey, you’ve got to lose x or y number of pounds if you want to work at this establishment,” the man told us.

Like many of the COVID-19 requirements, unless one side backs down, the only resolution here appears to be in the courts.

Leon County said the vaccination rate among its 750 employees has gone from 50 to 80 percent since the mandate was announced six weeks ago.

In addition to the county, several cities have also mandated a shot.

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