Cities, counties that require COVID-19 vaccine for employees to face $5K fines, DeSantis says

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.

READ: Baby among latest COVID-19 deaths reported in Orange County

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.

READ: CDC study: Unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19

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.”

WATCH: Helping kids cope with COVID-19 and mask anxiety

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.

READ: Study: Group of scientists say no need for boosters for the general population yet

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.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.