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Florida agencies that require COVID-19 vaccination now face $5,000 fine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week said any state or local agency that follows federal advice to mandate proof of vaccination for employees will be fined $5,000 per violation. File Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week said any state or local agency that follows federal advice to mandate proof of vaccination for employees will be fined $5,000 per violation. File Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Beginning Thursday under a controversial new order by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, government agencies can be fined $5,000 for every employee they require to be vaccinated against COVID-19 -- a political pushback against President Joe Biden's efforts to control the spread of the virus.

The Republican DeSantis issued the order on Monday, which says any state or local agency that follows Biden's advice to mandate proof of vaccination for employees will be fined.

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The fiscal penalty stems from a bill DeSantis signed in May, which bans "vaccine passports" and agencies requiring proof of vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to services.

"This is political, it's about using government power to control," DeSantis said in a statement Monday. "These big-government mandates strip away people's rights to make the best decision for themselves."

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In recent weeks and months, Florida has been a virtual hotbed of coronavirus transmissions. The surge began in July as the Delta variant, a more infectious strain, spread in the state and prompted some businesses to return to restrictions like mask mandates and distancing to mitigate the spread.

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Florida health officials say there were more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases statewide last week. The number of new cases per week has declined some since the peak in late August, when there were almost 152,000 new cases in one week.

DeSantis' order and other moves to ban coronavirus-related mandates have faced opposition from within the state and efforts to block them in court.

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Late Wednesday, a federal judge declined to block DeSantis' ban against requiring children to wear masks in public Florida schools. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore denied the motion from a group of parents who asked for an injunction.

DeSantis' order in July banning mask mandates in schools led the Florida Department of Health to give parents a way to opt out.

In asking for the injunction, the group of parents argued that the order violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws that are designed to protect the rights of students with disabilities.

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Moore said the parents group must first file administrative claims before they are able to seek an injunction in the courts.

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