ORANGE COUNTY, FLA. — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that cities and counties that require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will face a $5,000 fine per infraction.
DeSantis announced the news during a rally-like press conference of politicians and residents who blasted President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate order from last week.
The announcement also came just as Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings was giving his news conference about the latest on COVID-19 in the county. Orange County is requiring its employees to receive the vaccine.
DeSantis specifically mentioned Orange County during news conference, so it is clear the county is in the crosshairs.
The fines here, the governor said, will reach into the millions.
Maria Bernard, a 19-year veteran of the Orange County fire department, said she and her firefighter husband worked through the pandemic, contracted COVID-19 and went back to work.
She said she is not against the vaccine, just against the mandates, saying it’s a “slippery slope.”
But without receiving the vaccine, she and her husband risk losing their jobs.
“We are going to protect people’s jobs … we are not going to let people be fired because of a vaccine mandate,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis cited a new law passed this year that prohibits businesses, local governments and schools from requiring customers, residents and students from showing proof of vaccination, but doesn’t specifically prohibit those entities from requiring workers to get vaccines.
Right now in Orange County, 71% of people are vaccinated; but Demings said he wants that number even higher, and will continue to push for that and continue with the mandate.