TALLAHASSEE – Governor Ron DeSantis opened a multi-million dollar battle against vaccination warrants and took the fight to the Biden administration on Thursday.
The GOP governor has said Florida will challenge in federal court and through legislation any vaccine mandate imposed on employers or others by President Joe Biden. DeSantis’ comments follow those from Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who earlier this week banned vaccine requirements in his state.
“Let’s not let Biden come in and effectively remove – threaten to take away – the jobs of the people who have worked hard throughout this pandemic,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Fort Myers. “I am offended that a police officer could potentially lose his job.”
Biden announced plans to release the vaccination mandate for companies with more than 100 employees and federal workers through the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration in September. The plans immediately aroused the wrath of Republicans, including DeSantis, who said vaccination should be a personal choice and that people who have become naturally immune to Covid-19 should be exempt from the warrant.
“I just think it’s fundamentally wrong to cut jobs, especially given the situations we see ourselves facing with the economy,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has consistently rejected restrictions related to Covid, including vaccine passports, mask warrants and lockdowns. He continued a months-long conflict with school districts that defied his order over mask warrants, including freezing the salaries of school officials who enforce mask requirements without a parental opt-out policy. This fight also brought on the Biden administration, which provided over $ 500,000 in financial aid to school officials.
More recently, the DeSantis Florida Department of Health fined Leon County $ 3.57 million after asking hundreds of workers to get vaccinated. The county laid off 14 employees who refused to be shot. Leon County District Attorney Chasity O’Steen said Tuesday the county, which has until Nov. 5 to pay the fine, is prepared to defend the warrant.
Florida over the summer was a hotbed for new infections as the Delta variant spread across the state. At one point, the state accounted for about 1 in 5 new coronavirus infections in the country. Before the summer outbreak, Florida had the 27th highest Covid-19 death rate in the country; thereafter, the state’s death rate rose to 10th, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DeSantis, who is evaluating a 2024 presidential bid, said Thursday that Florida lawsuits against federal vaccine warrants would be filed in the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals. He also referred to the ban in Texas, which files challenges in the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals.
Many school districts and cities in Florida have complied with the governor’s orders. The city of Gainesville rescinded its vaccination mandate last month after facing threats from DeSantis, and more than 100 employees have filed a lawsuit against the municipality in state circuit court. DeSantis said some of the city’s police officers were about to be fired.
“They didn’t have the ability to work from home, they didn’t have access to Zoom to protect us and kind of worked to protect the public on Zoom, you have to be there,” DeSantis said. . “They were there all the time. “