Vax mandate showdown coming

Nearly 80 percent of Leon County employees have the COVID-19 vaccine.
Nearly 80 percent of Leon County employees have the COVID-19 vaccine.(WDBJ7 Photo)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 3:32 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Vaccine mandates remain in place for employees of Leon, Florida’s Capital County, following the Governor’s threat of a $5,000 fine per employee. County administrators are not backing down.

Leon County Administrator Vince Long said the county is sticking with a requirement that all employees be vaccinated or face being fired on October first.

“We have a responsibility to ensure a ready workforce in Leon County to ensure that our workforce is ready and prepared to respond to the needs of our community,” said Long.

But the Governor continues to see the mandate differently.

“We shouldn’t deprive someone of their livelihoods and their jobs based on this issue,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

Language in an emergency management bill this year appears to allow the governor to invalidate city and county measures. Long said federal decisions are on the county’s side.

“Well, the courts have held that vaccinations do not infringe on people’s rights or liberties. So, that’s what we hang our hat on,” said Long.

So far there have been 36 exemptions granted to employees, mostly for medical reasons. Having had the virus won’t get an exemption.

We met Daniel at the county work facility, but he wouldn’t give us his last name.

“I’ve been vaccinated and I know a few that don’t and won’t, but not very many,” said Daniel.

We also talked to a man who asked to remain anonymous. He is not a county employee but faces a similar mandate.

“I think that’s one step away from telling somebody, hey, you’ve got to lose x or y number of pounds if you want to work at this establishment,” the man told us.

Like many of the COVID-era requirements, unless one side backs down, the only resolution here appears to be in the courts.

Leon County said the vaccination rate among its 750 employees has gone from 50 to 80 percent since the mandate was announced six weeks ago. In addition to the county, several cities have also mandated a shot.