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Gov. Desantis Proposes Ban on COVID-19 Vaccine, Mask Mandates

Florida legislators also seek to protect doctors whose medical opinions differ from those of politicians

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced a legislative proposal that would codify permanent bans on COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates statewide.

In a statement released on Jan. 17, DeSantis pledged to defend Floridians from the “Biomedical Security State” and protect parental rights, as well as state residents from losing their jobs due to discrimination based on vaccine status.

“When the world lost its mind, Florida was a refuge of sanity, serving strongly as freedom’s linchpin,” DeSantis said. “These measures will ensure Florida remains this way and will provide landmark protections for free speech for medical practitioners.”

The new legislative proposal aims to:

  • Permanently prohibit COVID-19 mask requirements statewide
  • Permanently prohibit COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements in schools
  • Permanently prohibit COVID-19 vaccine passports in Florida
  • Permanently prohibit employers from hiring or firing based on mRNA shots

Additional provisions would seek to codify protections for doctors and members of the medical community.

The proposed plan would protect freedom of speech for medical professionals, doctor’s rights to disagree with mainstream narratives, and religious views of medical professionals.

Mandatory vaccination for private employers was a policy the Biden administration sought to foist onto Americans, with an effective date of January 2022. However, multiple states opposed the initiative, enacting bans on COVID-19 vaccine mandates before Biden’s directive took effect.

As of October 2021, eight states had in place a ban on employer vaccine mandates: Montana, Utah, Texas, Michigan, Indiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia. Following legal challenges, a federal judge backed the Biden rule in November 2021 for Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio.

On Jan. 12, 2023, an appeals court affirmed the ban on Jan. 12 2023, with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the mandate was unconstitutional.

“The Sixth Circuit’s decision is a resounding victory against unlawful federal overreach into the personal medical decisions of Kentuckians,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said in a statement after the ruling was issued. “For over a year, the Biden Administration has fought against us, but the court has agreed with our legal arguments and has halted the federal contractor vaccine mandate for Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.”

Other states have encroached upon medical professionals and their ability to provide their clients informed consent, using the state’s legislature to regulate what doctors can and cannot say to patients regarding COVID-19.

California legislators recently passed a bill making it illegal for doctors to express medical opinions that contradict state bureaucrats. Florida’s bill, however, would codify protections for doctors to practice without punishment if their medical opinions differ from those of politicians.

“As a health sciences researcher and physician, I have personally witnessed accomplished scientists receive threats due to their unorthodox positions,” State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said in the news release with DeSantis. “However, many of these positions have proven to be correct, as we’ve all seen over the past few years. All medical professionals should be encouraged to engage in scientific discourse without fearing for their livelihoods or their careers.”

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