Vaccine mandate showdown coming

The CD
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 4:09 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - Vaccine mandates remain in place for employees of Leon County, Florida’s Capital County, following the governor’s threat of a $5,000 fine per-employee.

County administrators are not backing down.

Leon County Administrator Vince Long says the county is sticking with a requirement that all employees be vaccinated or face being fired on October 1.

“We have a responsibility to ensure a ready work force in Leon County to ensure that our work force is ready and prepared to respond to the needs of our community,” said Long.

But the governor continues to see the mandate differently.

“We shouldn’t deprive someone of their livelihoods and their jobs based on this issue,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

Language in an emergency management bill this year appears to allow the governor to invalidate city and county measures.

Long said federal decisions are on the county’s side.

“Well, the courts have held that vaccinations do not infringe on peoples rights or liberties. So, that’s what we hang our hat on,” said Long.

So far, there have been 36 exemptions granted to employees, mostly for medical reasons.

Having had the virus won’t get an exemption.

We met Daniel at the county work facility, but he wouldn’t give us his last name.

“I’ve been vaccinated and I know a few that don’t and won’t, but not very many,” said Daniel.

We also talked to a man who asked to remain anonymous.

He is not a county employee, but faces a similar mandate.

“I think that’s one step away from telling somebody, ‘Hey, you’ve got to lose X or Y number of pounds if you want to work at this establishment,’” the man told us.

Like many of the COVID-era requirements, unless one side backs down, the only resolution here appears to be in the courts.

Leon County says the vaccination rate among its 750 employees has gone from 50% to 80% since the mandate was announced six weeks ago.

In addition to the county, several cities have also mandated a shot.

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