Despite threats from the state, Leon County Administrator Vice Long instituted a vaccine requirement for his employees in July. On Oct. 6, the Florida Department of Health Division Director Douglas Woodlief notified Long he was in violation of the law after the county fired several employees for refusing to comply with the mandate.
Some state officials expressed their outrage over the fine. Rep. Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) called it “an overreach of state government,” while Sen. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) blasted DeSantis for “spending his time punishing counties working to keep their citizens safe.”
“Unbelievable!” Ausley said in a statement. “We don’t need the State bullying our communities or private businesses who are simply trying to serve the people and get on the other side of this pandemic. It’s going to take all of us standing together to make this happen.”
Long said he hadn’t even heard about the health department’s decision until he saw media reports on it.
“There is a genuine disagreement about the applicability of the statute and rule, and the County will enforce its rights using any remedies available at law, if necessary,” Long said.
Leon County residents are also pissed about the fine.
“It’s all just political posturing,” Christopher Link, a Tallahassee resident, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “ It makes no sense and only hurts the taxpayer. The fact that the better good for the health of the state is so wrongly politicized is insane. The crazies have taken over, really.”
Another Tallahassee resident, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of professional retaliation, told The Daily Beast that she “wished the fight was against stopping the coronavirus—not against political leaders who feel like they have to appease their base.”
“This pandemic has been going on for over a year, and I’ve never really felt like the priority in Florida was about saving lives. Just careers,” the resident added.