Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to fight the Biden administration over federal vaccine mandates.
“I am offended that a police officer could potentially lose their job,” he said on Thursday.
DeSantis has opposed broad vaccine requirements and mask mandates in K-12 public schools.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, on Thursday said that the state will fight the federal government in court over legislation regarding such requirements.
DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has spoken out forcefully against vaccination rules placed on employers, and last month said that President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate was a violation of Florida law.
“Let’s not have Biden come in and effectively take away – threaten to take away – the jobs of people who have been working hard throughout this entire pandemic,” DeSantis said during a news conference this week. “I am offended that a police officer could potentially lose their job.”
“I just think it’s fundamentally wrong to be taking people’s jobs away, particularly given the situations that we see ourselves facing with the economy,” he added.
The rule from the federal government mandates that employers with over 100 workers must require vaccination or conduct weekly testing, which would affect about 80 million Americans. The broader mandate would also affect about 17 million healthcare workers who are employed by hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, along with federal employees and contractors.
Republicans last month quickly pounced on Biden’s move.
Even Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who has traveled throughout his conservative in an effort to boost the vaccine, said that Biden’s decision to enact a federal mandate was not helpful to increasing inoculation levels among the public.
“I support businesses being able to require vaccination, but it’s their own independent choice for their workplace,” he said last month. “But to have the federal mandate will be counterproductive. It’s going to increase resistance. We’re going to grow our vaccinations whether you have this or not.”
DeSantis, who has rejected the use of vaccine passports and waged battles with school districts that have sought to implement mask mandates, recently appointed Dr. Joseph Ladapo to become the state’s new surgeon general.
Ladapo, who opposes mask mandates and feels that COVID-19 vaccines are “nothing special,” last year boosted the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine to fight the coronavirus. The World Health Organization earlier this year said that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective form of treatment for COVID-19.
Recently, the Florida Department of Health leveled a $3.57 million fine against Leon County, which encompasses the state capital of Tallahassee, after the jurisdiction mandated that hundreds of workers receive the vaccine.
The county terminated the employment of 14 workers who chose not to receive the vaccine, according to The Tallahassee Democrat, and local officials are prepared to defend the requirement in court.
A recent study conducted by the French government-backed scientific organization Epi-Phare, which looked at nearly 23 million individuals, found that vaccines reduced the risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19 by at least 90% among individuals 50 years old or older.
As Insider’s Eliza Relman previously reported, medical professionals as well as public health and legal experts, have praised vaccine and testing mandates as effective and constitutional tools to promote public health — especially as the unvaccinated pose a threat to others’ health and safety.
DeSantis said that the state’s lawsuits against the federal mandates will be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Florida, which this past summer experienced a surge in new COVID-19 infections fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant, has seen over 57,000 of its residents succumb to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
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