TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The mayor of Gainesville on Tuesday said he’s keeping a COVID-19 vaccine requirement in place for city workers.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference earlier in the day where he defended people’s right to choose, but also said that people who decide not to get vaccinated might be making the wrong choice.
“There are some of those folks who may make a decision that’s not ultimately the right decision for them,” DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday in Miami-Dade county. “There’s obviously probably people that have been hospitalized who probably wouldn’t have been if they had done that.”
The governor has threatened to fine cities as much as $5,000 per violation over vaccine mandates
Despite threats of a fine, Mayor Lauren Poe said he will do what he thinks is in the best interest of city workers’ health.
“We know that these are the absolutely best way to protect an individual’s health from the coronavirus and also protect the public’s health because so many in our community interact with a wide diversity of our neighbors every day,” Poe said.
Last Friday, President Joe Biden announced sweeping new vaccine mandates that affect 100 million Americans.
Poe leads a staff of 2,200 city workers. Some have spoken against getting vaccinated, but a majority have gotten the vaccine.
Poe doesn’t believe DeSantis’ threats of a fine can be enforced.
“We don’t think it will cost us anything,” Poe said. “We don’t think that he had the legal right to do that. As an employer, we have the responsibility to protect the health and safety of all of our employees and the public we serve.”
For federal workers, Nov. 22 is the deadline to get fully vaccinated under Biden’s new mandate.
Florida has been a national epicenter for the virus’s spread this summer, with COVID-19 deaths in Florida accounting for more than 20% of the virus-related deaths across the country last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.