The State of Florida is investigating 43 businesses for possibly violating the state’s COVID “vaccine passport” law, but no one has yet been issued a $5,000 fine.
“Applicable entities that are found to be in violation will be fined,” said Department of Health communications director Weesam Khoury.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings received a letter from the state threatening the county with fines for mandating employee vaccinations, which he has vowed to fight. The law forbids businesses and governments from requiring proof of vaccination from their customers.
The Department of Health is responsible for enforcing the $5,000 per violation fine under a law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, said that the law was politically motivated.
“He’s not actually fining any businesses,” said Guillermo Smith, who is suing the Department of Health over the disappearance of detailed coronavirus data. “It’s just another bumper sticker for him to help him raise money. The cost of the policy is more than a $5,000 fee. It will cost lives.”
Florida has recorded more than 3.5 million coronavirus cases and about 54,000 deaths. Under the rules set up by the health department, it would issue a notice of violation to anyone who violates the law, which will include the right to a hearing before an administrative law judge.
A federal judge issued a permanent injunction to block Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on “sanctuary cities” from being enforced after portions of the bill were found to be unconstitutional.
SB 168, required state, county and city agencies to work with federal immigration authorities and outlawed cities that offered protections to undocumented immigrants, and was sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, was signed into law and came at a time when there were no sanctuary cities in Florida.
The ruling by District Judge Beth Bloom is in response to a lawsuit filed by the City of South Miami against DeSantis.
South Florida officials’ vary on whether or not to implement vaccine mandates on government employees, as ordered by President Joe Biden.
“We read about and hear about and we see the stories of hospitalized people, people on their deathbeds among the unvaccinated over the past few weeks,” The President said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, however threatened to impose a $5,000 fine per employee on local governments with vaccine mandates.
“This is political, it’s about using government power to control,” DeSantis said. “We’re going to protect these jobs, we’re going to protect livelihoods and we’re going to protect families.”
Broward County Mayor Steven Geller rebuts that DeSantis is the one who is misusing government power.
“You shouldn’t be telling the local governments that we can’t make our own decisions, while at the same time telling the federal government that they should not be distinguishing between large urban and smaller rural states,” Geller said.
Officials at Broward County’s city of Plantation decided to require city employees to vaccinate against COVID-19 unless they can provide a valid religious or medical exemption.
”We are taking what the Governor said seriously but our reading of the statute does not align with his,” said Jason Nunemaker, the chief administrator of the city of Plantation.
Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava was already requiring employees who didn’t provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to provide weekly coronavirus test results.
The FDA is scheduled to meet to discuss the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine booster shots.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber slammed Governor Ron DeSantis after announcing that county and city governments would be fined if they mandated that their employees be vaccinated.
“He’s spreading these conspiracies about vaccines and now stopping major employers from getting their employees, who deal with the public every day, vaccinated. This is really horrible,” said Gelber.
DeSantis said cities or counties that require employee vaccinations would be fined $5,000 per violation.
“I don’t support mandates at all, but if you’re doing mandates based off this, if you’re really following science, you would acknowledge this natural immunity and instead they ignore it,” he said, however health experts have said a person’s natural immunity after recovering from COVID is not as strong as the protection provided by the vaccines.
“You do not need a law degree to know this is idiotic and we’re not going to let somebody, including unfortunately our own governor, put our residents in danger,” said Gelber.
A Florida judge ruled that the state cannot enforce a ban on public schools mandating the use of masks.
An appeals court will sort out whether the ban is ultimately legal, as Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper lifted an automatic stay of his decision that Gov. Ron DeSantis and state education officials exceeded their authority by imposing the blanket ban through executive order.
"We're not in normal times. We are in a pandemic," Cooper said during the hearing. "We have a (coronavirus) variant that is more infectious and dangerous to children than the one we had last year."
The state has an appeal against the judge's order
15 Miami-Dade County public school staff members died of COVID-19 in just 10 days.
“It’s a tremendous loss,” said a school official Abe Coleman.
Local education officials haven’t released the identities of the teachers or staff members.
“The loss of any of our employees is one that is always profoundly felt as every member of this organization is considered a part of Miami-Dade County Public Schools family,” the district said in a statement. “We extend our hearts and prayers to the loved ones of those whose lives have recently been lost.”
Florida is issuing $5,000 fines to businesses, schools and government agencies that require people to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that banned vaccine passports, and the fines will start Sept. 16.
COVID-19 infections in Florida have skyrocketed as the state has been one of the hardest-hit areas of the United States from the delta variant.