Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Monday that in an effort to “defend freedom,” the state will fine any local government that requires its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
He reiterated his position that vaccines are “available to everyone, but compulsory for no one” and based his comments on the legislation, SB 2006, which he signed in May. Among other things, the law prohibits businesses and local state governments from requiring people to prove that they have been vaccinated or have recovered from a COVID infection to use their services.
“If a Florida state government agency imposes a vaccine as a condition of employment, it violates Florida law and you may be fined $ 5,000 for each violation,” DeSantis said Monday. “And so if you look at places here in Alachua County, like the town of Gainesville, it’s potentially millions and millions of dollars in fines.”
SB 2006 does not prohibit governments from mandating COVID-19 vaccines.
DeSantis highlighted the problem with regard to police, firefighters and other emergency responders, saying that “a lot of them have had COVID before. OK. Let’s be honest.… Those who have recovered have very strong immunity. “
The CDC says people should be vaccinated whether or not they have already contracted COVID, because “research has yet to show how long you are protected against the new COVID-19 after you have recovered from COVID-19 “. A study has shown that unvaccinated people who had previously contracted COVID are more than twice as likely as fully vaccinated people to contract COVID again.
“We are going to stand up for the men and women who serve us. We are going to protect jobs in Florida. We are not going to let people be fired because of a vaccination warrant,” DeSantis said. “… You don’t just put aside those people who have served this issue faithfully, which is fundamentally a personal choice regarding their personal health.”
A longtime employee from Alachua County also spoke at the conference, saying he was at risk of being fired because he had not been vaccinated. For him, he said, “it is not about the vaccine, it is about the compulsory vaccination”.
“No one should tell you what to put in your body. I choose what goes on in my body. Of course, I eat burgers and fries, but it’s my choice,” he said, claiming that no one should force vegetarians to eat meat.
He also falsely claimed that the vaccine alters the body’s RNA, a claim that health experts and scientists have continuously ruled incorrect. MRNA in COVID vaccines teaches body cells to do ““which looks like what’s on top of the coronavirus, so if the coronavirus is detected in the body, the immune system can recognize it and attack it. The vaccine does not alter DNA.”
For months, Florida has dominated the county in COVID cases. There have been nearly 3.5 million cases and nearly 50,000 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In Alachua County, where Gainesville is located, there have been more than 5,700 cases in the past 28 days, according to Johns Hopkins. Gainesville has been sued by 200 employees who claim the vaccination warrants violate state law. But a city spokesperson told CBS Miami that the city reserves the right to demand such a warrant.
Counties that have been among the hardest hit by COVID are among those requiring county employees to be vaccinated. In August, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced that all county employees would be required to show proof of their vaccine or undergo weekly testing.
Miami-Dade has consistently recorded the highest number of COVID cases in the state. There have been more than 58,300 cases in the past 28 days, according to Johns Hopkins.
“Our community has endured too much,” said Levine Cava. “By getting vaccinated, we can prevent further pain, we can prevent further loss of our neighbors, colleagues and friends. We can avoid what is really preventable.”