A Florida county government was reportedly fined $3.5 million by the state for violating a ban on COVID-19 vaccine passports and for firing workers who did not get vaccinated.
The state health department issued the fine for Leon County, which it says broke a state law banning governments and businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
“These are people that, presumably, have been serving throughout this whole time and now all of a sudden they’re basically getting kicked to the curb,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said at a news conference, per The AP.
The law, which took effect in September and potentially conflicts with federal guidelines, can lead up to $5,000 in fines per violation.
The Orlando Sentinel reported on Monday that the state is investigating around 120 potential violations.
Leon County Administrator Vincent Long reportedly took issue with the fine, saying that “there is a genuine disagreement about the applicability of the statute and rule, and the county will enforce its rights using any remedies available at law, if necessary.”
Florida state Sen. Loranne Ausley (D) called the fines “unbelievable,” adding that localities “don’t need the state bullying our communities or private businesses who are simply trying to serve the people and get on the other side of this pandemic,” according to The AP.
Florida is averaging slightly under 5,600 new COVID-19 cases per day, which represents a 14 percent decline over the past 14 days. Meanwhile, roughly 58 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.
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