Lawmakers Consider Ways To Protect Floridians From Vaccine Mandates
TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Florida lawmakers will consider multiple proposals during a weeklong session. A major topic of discussion: blocking federal COVID-19 mandates in the state. This would include President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses.
Dr. Jay Wolfson, a Public Health Policy Professor at the University of South Florida, says the issue is a challenging one.
"This is an interesting question as to whether or not the grave danger extends far enough and if the federal government's authority under the constitution is broad enough and specific enough," said Dr. Wolfson.
Starting in January, President Biden is mandating that all companies with 100 people or more will require employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, or wear a mask and be tested weekly for the virus.
On Monday, the Florida Legislature came together for a special session, to consider ways to protect employees from losing their jobs due to the vaccine mandate.
"The fifth circuit has also argued, as is the Governor of Florida, that the federal government has overreached dramatically to impose blanket statements over organizations regardless of whether those places are really high risk," said Dr. Wolfson.
But Dr. Wolfson says in order for the federal government to impose such a strict mandate, it would need to show that a company's work place is directly connected to people dying from COVID-19.
"That may be a bit of a stretch because this disease it tricky. It's difficult to show that I got it when I was at work or I got it when I was in transit or I got it from my uncle Joe when I went to dinner with him because it's such a curious disease," said Dr. Wolfson.
He says there have been some cases within the last few months that might support the federal government's decision.
"The supreme court of the United States has already ruled that individual organizations due have the constitutional authority to impose vaccine and mask mandates."
Florida lawmakers are considering bills this week that would allow employees to opt out of a vacccine mandate for reasons like previous COVID-19 immunity and pregnancy. If an employer fires someone for not being vaccinated, the employer could face a fine up to $50,000.
Dr. Wolfson says the issue will eventually make its way up to the supreme court, but for now he has a suggestion.
"This is a matter and always has been of personal responsibility, do not expect the federal government or the state government to protect you from this disease. Only you can do that," said Dr. Wolfson.
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