Bay County employers, government, ignore vaccine mandates

Local News

FILE – In this Sept. 14, 2021, file photo, a syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa. COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have climbed back to where they were over the winter, wiping out months of progress and potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s case for sweeping new vaccination requirements. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Despite strong words from President Joe Biden and an equally strong response from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Bay County government officials and private employers are mostly ignoring the coronavirus vaccine controversy. 

Officials with Bay County’s three largest government agencies, Panama City, Panama City Beach, and Bay County said Wednesday that the mandate issue had not been discussed internally. Nor, is it up for discussion in any future meeting. 

The answer from the business community was much the same Wednesday as local leaders said the issue had not yet been discussed. 

However, it is certainly on the mind of people in Washington and Tallahassee. 

On September 9th, President Joe Biden said The Department Labor was developing an emergency rule that required employers with 100 or more employees to show that their employees were vaccinated or to mandate a negative COVID test for each employee once a week. 

“Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this: United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Food, and even Fox News,” he added. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is one of several Republican governors to strongly oppose any coronavirus prevention requirements. 

He weighed in on the issue this week. 

“If a government agency in the state of Florida forces a vaccine as a condition to employment, that violates Florida law and you will face a $5,000 fine for every single violation,” DeSantis said Monday. “And so if you look at places here in Alachua County, like the city of Gainesville, that’s millions and millions of dollars potentially in fines.”  

President Biden described the issue as a pandemic of the unvaccinated and says the mandates are necessary to protect all Americans. Desantis argues that it is about personal freedom.

“You don’t just cast aside people who have been serving faithfully over this issue, over what’s basically a personal choice about their personal health,” DeSantis said. 

So far, about 664,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

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