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South Florida leaders disagree on COVID-19 vaccine mandates

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – South Florida officials’ opinions vary on whether or not to implement the type of vaccine mandates on government employees that President Joe Biden ordered at the federal level and Gov. Ron DeSantis is opposed to at the state level.

During his announcement on Thursday, Biden said he was issuing the mandates because the country is enduring the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

“We read about and hear about and we see the stories of hospitalized people, people on their deathbeds among the unvaccinated over the past few weeks,” Biden said.

During his announcement on Monday, DeSantis threatened to impose a $5,000 fine per employee on local governments with vaccine mandates.

“This is political, it’s about using government power to control,” DeSantis said. “We’re going to protect these jobs, we’re going to protect livelihoods and we’re going to protect families.”

Broward County Mayor Steven Geller said on Tuesday DeSantis is the one who is misusing government power during the pandemic.

“You shouldn’t be telling the local governments that we can’t make our own decisions, while at the same time telling the federal government that they should not be distinguishing between large urban and smaller rural states,” Geller said.

Although Broward County has yet to make an announcement, officials at Broward County’s city of Plantation decided to require city employees to vaccinate against COVID-19 unless they can provide a valid religious or medical exemption.

”We are taking what the Governor said seriously but our reading of the statute does not align with his,” said Jason Nunemaker, the chief administrator of the city of Plantation.

Before the announcements, Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava was already requiring employees who didn’t provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to provide weekly coronavirus test results.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced the city will be receiving about $137 million in federal aid. Commissioner Manolo Reyes said he welcomes the federal funding, but he doesn’t believe “on mandates for anything.”

Vaccine breakthrough cases, when a vaccinated patient gets infected with the coronavirus, rose with the Delta variant. In Monroe County, Commissioner Mike Forster, the former mayor of Islamorada, received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and died of COVID-19 on Sept. 6.

The Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine booster shots.

About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.