Gov. DeSantis plans to challenge Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference in Niceville. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

NICEVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday said he plans to challenge in court the Biden administration’s requirement that companies ensure workers are vaccinated or tested regularly for COVID-19.

According to NBC News, the requirement is expected to be finalized next week and DeSantis said he will immediately contest it.

“We think the state of Florida has standing to do it and we also know businesses that we’re going to work with to contest it,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Fort Myers. “I also think that we have responsibility at the state level to do whatever we need to do legislatively to be able to protect Floridians from mandates that could result in them losing their jobs.”

DeSantis’ comments come after the Florida Department of Health on Tuesday issued a $3.5 million fine for Leon County saying the municipality violated Florida’s “vaccine passport” law by firing 14 workers who failed to get the shots.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration called out Republican governors in Texas and Florida for opposing coronavirus vaccine mandates for businesses, saying they are “putting politics ahead of public health.”

“Over 700,000 American lives have been lost due to COVID-19, including more than 56,000 in Florida and over 68,000 in Texas, and every leader should be focused on efforts to save lives and end the pandemic,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “Why would you be taking steps that prevent the saving of lives that make it more difficult to save lives across the country or in any state?”

DeSantis said the Biden initiative that would require employers with 100 or more workers to ensure that their employees are vaccinated or tested regularly will have a negative effect on the economy.

“I know Biden is trying to force this on everybody. One, I think it’s your choice, I don’t think you should get fired over this issue, and we want to protect people’s jobs, but two, it is absolutely is going to have a negative impact on the economy,” DeSantis said, adding he thinks he will win in court.

DeSantis has said he’s open to creating more legal protections for workers who don’t want to get vaccinated and said there may be an announcement coming soon on that.

“If a business forces somebody to do this, then that employee, if there’s anything that happens negative as a result of that coercion, you know, they should be able to go in and then sue and get compensation and get damages for that,” DeSantis said.

In Jacksonville on Thursday morning, Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist also criticized DeSantis and his COVID-19 response during a meeting with voters and faith leaders in a Brentwood cafe.

RELATED: 100+ Florida entities under review for ‘vaccination passport’ violations

“Then I find out that his department of health is investigating companies all over the state of Florida, to see if they have violated his mandate, about masks, and making it mandatory for people getting checked before they go to a concert for a guy named Harry Styles. It’s unbelievable, who are they gonna investigate next, this restaurant?” Crist said.

Democrat Charlie Crist speaks during a campaign stop in Jacksonville. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

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