Governor DeSantis signs law against Covid-19 warrants

Flanked by Republican legislative leaders, DeSantis officially made Florida the first state with a law to impose fines on businesses and hospitals that require a Covid-19 vaccination without exemptions or alternatives. DeSantis enacted the legislative package a day after Republican lawmakers passed his anti-mandate platform in a swift special session that was widely divided among parties.

“Leadership means getting in there and doing what you can to support people,” DeSantis said. “And that’s exactly what we did today.”

The measures Florida took this week represent a significant escalation in the fight between the Republican-led states and the federal government against pressure from President Joe Biden to vaccinate the country against the coronavirus, and they reflect just how bad the pandemic is. become politicized. DeSantis, who is himself vaccinated against the coronavirus and has previously championed the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing mass deaths, exploited growing anger over public health restrictions and positioned himself as a foil to Biden .

Many in the crowd Thursday wore red “Operation Freedom of Choice” t-shirts, while others shouted their opposition to federal warrants with comments like “The vaccine is the virus.” DeSantis staff members handed out signs that read “Don’t Step On Florida” and “Freedom Has A Home Here”. The state’s new surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, an opponent of masks and skeptical of the effectiveness of vaccines, was greeted like a hero and posed for photos with DeSantis supporters after the governor’s departure. Also in attendance were Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson.

With the signing on Thursday, all Florida entities – including businesses, hospitals and governments – must allow workers to opt out of a vaccination warrant through medical or religious exemption, proof immunity or by undergoing regular testing for Covid-19. (The law states that it will be up to the state health ministry to “establish standards of competent medical evidence that the employee is immune to COVID-19,” and it is not clear how it is. because he recovered from the infection does not make people safe from another infection.) If they break the new law, companies with less than 100 employees face fines of $ 10,000 per violation and businesses with 100 or more employees face fines of $ 50,000.

The law directly targets the immunization mandates Biden sought for workers through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and for healthcare workers through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Under these mandates, companies face penalties if they do not require vaccination or regular testing as a condition of employment.

Additionally, the new law prohibits school districts from imposing masks and quarantining healthy students who may have been exposed to the virus.

Lawmakers also approved a $ 5 million war chest to fund the state’s legal battles against the Biden administration. Florida is already one of 26 states suing to prevent the federal vaccine mandate from forcing employers to require vaccinations and DeSantis announced Thursday that the state will join another lawsuit to block forced vaccinations. health workers.

“Many nurses could lose their jobs,” DeSantis said. “So you are making the hospitals understaffed because of the warrant. So how does this make sense? “

About Michael S. Montanez

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