A Florida county has been fined $3.5 million for violating Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on vaccine passports.
Leon County, which includes Tallahassee, became the first county to be fined by the Florida Department of Health for violating the ban.
Leon County Administrator Vincent Long has argued that the vaccination requirement and subsequent firing of 14 employees were legal and that the ban is a political move by DeSantis.
“The governor’s position in this instance, unfortunately, appears to be less of a public health strategy and more about political strategy,” Long said, according to a report from Fox News.
“These are people that, presumably, have been serving throughout this whole time and now all of a sudden they’re basically getting kicked to the curb,” DeSantis said during a press conference about the employees that had been fired.
DeSantis announced the fine on Tuesday on social media.
No one should lose their job because of COVID shots.@HealthyFla fined Leon County more than $3.5 million for violating Florida law after the county fired 14 employees for not complying with the county’s forced vaccination policy.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 12, 2021
“No one should lose their job because of COVID shots,” DeSantis wrote in a tweet, adding that the Department of Health “fined Leon County more than $3.5 million for violating Florida law after the county fired 14 employees for not complying with the county’s forced vaccination policy.”
The vaccine passport law signed by DeSantis prohibits both private businesses and government from requiring people show proof of vaccination.
“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,” DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said, according to a report from the Tallahassee Democrat. “Governor DeSantis will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law.”
The Orlando Sentinel reports that “dozens of local governments and businesses” are also being investigated for potential violations.