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Florida Issues $3.5M Fine to County Violating Ban on COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

The Florida Department of Health fined the Leon County government $3.57 million Tuesday over its violation of the state's ban on vaccine requirements.

The Florida Department of Health called the county government's actions a "blatant violation of the law relating to the ban of vaccine passports in our state," a reference to Senate Bill 2006, which prohibits businesses and government entities from requiring vaccine passports.

"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,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said in a press release announcing the fine.

"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," DeSantis continued.

Leon County terminated 14 employees earlier this month for failing to show proof of vaccination by their Oct. 1 deadline.

A total of 700 employees provided proof of vaccination and 30 additional workers received accommodations, according to a statement from Leon County Administrator Vince Long.

"As we have done throughout the pandemic, Leon County will continue to do everything reasonable and responsible to protect our community, to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our employees, to ensure the uninterrupted provision of essential services, and to be ready to respond to changing and unknown challenges ahead," the statement read.

The Leon County School District defied DeSantis' ban on mask mandates in schools back in August. Last week, the Florida Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of sanctioning Leon County and seven other school districts that imposed school mask mandates.

The fine issued to Leon County comes after the City of Gainesville last week rescinded its vaccine mandate for employees upon being alerted of its violation of state law.

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