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Florida issues $3.5 million fine to county for violating vaccine passport law

AFlorida county got slapped with a $3.5 million fine Tuesday after the state’s health department said it was in violation of the state’s ban on vaccine passports.

According to the Daily Beast, Leon County—which is home to Florida’s capital, Tallahassee—was fined by the Florida Department of Health after the county government started requiring its employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. 

The health department called the actions by the county government a “blatant violation” of Florida’s law prohibiting the usage of vaccine passports. This law bars businesses from requesting proof of vaccination from customers, as well as employees.

The notice alleges that Leon County violated the law 714 times by requesting each of the over 700 employees to provide vaccination records. The health department also states that the county government fired 14 people who refused to get the vaccine.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statement decrying Leon County for subjecting over 700 people to disclose personal information, such as vaccine status. 

“It is unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida law, infringed on current and former employees’ medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions,” DeSantis said in the statement “We will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law. We’re going to stand up for Floridians’ jobs, stand up for Floridians’ livelihoods, and stand up for freedom.”

DeSantis went on to say that he and his administration will continue to “defend” Floridians against vaccine mandates instituted by the federal government.

Despite the fine, Leon County officials intend on fighting the health department on its ruling, arguing that vaccine mandates are legally justifiable and that they were just following federal guidelines.

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Under Florida law, Leon County will have a chance to petition its case before a court within 30 days of the fine being issued.

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