The Florida Health Department, under the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis, on Tuesday imposed a hefty fine on Leon County for violating the statewide ban on vaccine mandates.
“No one should lose their job because of COVID shots,” said DeSantis.
The sanction totals at just over $3.5 million for breaking Florida law that prohibits any government entity within the state from requiring proof of COVID vaccination for employment.
The penalty comes just days after Leon County demanded that all government employees present vaccine credentials. 14 employees were fired for remaining unvaccinated.
Leon County Administrator, Vincent Long, was sent a notice of violation through a letter written by Florida Health Department Division Director, Douglas Woodlief. “This letter is notice that Leon County Government, a governmental entity as defined in section 768.38, Florida Statutes, is being assessed a total fine of 3,570,000.00 for 714 counts of violating section 381.00316, Florida Statutes,” said Wooflief.
Gov. DeSantis, a staunch conservative, gained national attention in 2021 for his anti-lockdown policies and opposition to vaccine passports. On May 3, 2021, DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 2006, ensuring the prohibition of lockdowns and COVID passports.
Addressing the violation, “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 DeSantis. In continuation with holding individual rights as a primary cause, “We’re going to stand up for Floridians’ jobs, stand up for Floridians’ livelihoods, and stand up for freedom,” said DeSantis.
Leon County has 30 days to pay the financial penalty in full.