On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) stepped up his efforts to crack down on local jurisdictions that implement harsh COVID lockdown requirements, this time taking aim at vaccine mandates, according to Politico.
DeSantis issued a stern warning and a threat to cities across Florida that try to implement a vaccine mandate, threatening to impose a fine of $5,000 on any cities, counties, or businesses that requires vaccination in order to work at a business or enter an establishment as a customer.
DeSantis’s stance is in direct contrast to Joe Biden, who last week announced sweeping new measures to force vaccinations on as many Americans as possible. Biden declared that all federal employees, as well as healthcare workers who are employed by providers that depend on federal funding, must be vaccinated; Biden also said he would enforce financial penalties on businesses of 100 employees or more that do not mandate vaccination.
Responding to Biden’s edicts in a press conference, DeSantis said that “We cannot allow these people being cast aside and their jobs being destroyed. This is not something that should be coerced on people.”
DeSantis further pointed out Biden’s increasing authoritarianism and disregard for the separation of powers, noting that “he is so dismissive of anybody who disagrees with him. You know how he talks about governors as if they just should be tossed aside out of the way.”
There are already at least three counties in Florida that are requiring vaccination or regular testing. Representatives from all three counties have vowed to fight DeSantis’s orders and move forward with their restrictions.
In Orange County, Mayor Jerry Demings accused Governor DeSantis of being “purely politically motivated.” Demings’s wife, Congresswoman Val Demings (D-Fla.), is running for the Democratic nomination in next year’s U.S. Senate race to challenge incumbent Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
A spokesperson for the city of Gainesville, another locality that is forcing vaccines on all its residents, said that “the health, safety and welfare of our city’s workforce and those we serve is our number one priority. The city has taken the steps necessary to achieve that priority and stand by that decision. It is our belief that as an employer, we retain the right and responsibility to require vaccinations as a condition of employment.”
The stand is the latest in a long pattern for DeSantis, whose efforts to protect the rights and freedom of Floridians has earned him widespread praise. Florida was among the very first states to lift all economic restrictions after the height of the pandemic in early 2020. Despite the lack of restrictions since then, Florida has consistently seen one of the lowest rates of COVID infections and hospitalizations, even as other states such as New York, with stricter requirements, continue to see surges.