Florida county residents angry after they're hit with multi-million dollar fine for having mandates

Florida county residents angry after they're hit with multi-million dollar fine for having mandates
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, speaks with members of Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., leadership during the governor's first visit to the base since becoming governor, Jan. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook)

Local officials in Florida are continuing to clash with the Florida Department of Health over COVID vaccine mandates. Now, the latest ordeal has escalated in Leon County, Fla.

According to The Daily Beast, the county was hit with a $3.57 million fine for implementing COVID vaccine requirements for all of its employees. Per the report, Leon County, home of Florida's capital city, Tallahassee, was fined "over its 'blatant violation' of Florida’s controversial 'vaccine passport' law that prohibits governments and businesses from requiring residents to show proof they were vaccinated against the coronavirus."

The Florida Department of Health's notice also claims the county violated the law a total of 714 times by requiring all municipal employees to get vaccinated. Fourteen employees were also terminated for their refusal to get the COVID vaccine.

With the announcement of the fine, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) criticized the county to imposing requirements on employees.

“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,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement announcing the fines. “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.”

Residents of Leon County have also expressed frustration about the fine. Speaking to The Daily Beast on Tuesday, March 8, Tallahassee resident Christopher Link weighed in with his concerns.

“It's all just political posturing,” Link said. “ It makes no sense and only hurts the taxpayer. The fact that the better good for the health of the state is so wrongly politicized is insane. The crazies have taken over, really.”

Another Tallahassee, Fla., resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of professional repercussions, said that she “wished the fight was against stopping the coronavirus—not against political leaders who feel like they have to appease their base.”

She added, “This pandemic has been going on for over a year, and I’ve never really felt like the priority in Florida was about saving lives. Just careers.”

Despite the concerns and frustrations over the fines, DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw argues that state officials are "simply 'enforcing' the law." “Leon made the county decision to break the law,” Pushaw said. “So if anyone is worried about the consequences for taxpayers—frankly [Leon County] should have thought about that before they decided to break the law. Breaking the law was worth it to them.”

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