Florida Department of Health is investigating Mayor Lauren Poe, Alachua County officials for violating vaccine passport law


The Florida Department of Health announced that it will investigate over 100 Florida businesses and public officials including Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, Alachua County and the Alachua County Library District for violating Gov. Ron DeSantis’ law banning vaccine passports.

According to the FDOH, Leon County was issued a fine of over $3.5 million on Tuesday for requiring employees to be vaccinated.

Alachua County spokesperson Mark Sexton said the county is confused as to why it was named in the list of violators. He said that the process behind the investigation is out of order.

“We do not have a vaccine mandate for employees. We give them the option of either being vaccinated or taking a COVID test once a week, but they are not required to be vaccinated or show proof of vaccination to get into the building,” Sexton said.

Sexton says the FDOH has not formally reached out to the county about appearing on the list, but he is confident that Alachua County is in accordance with the law.

Alachua County Library District spokesperson Rachel Cook said they do not enforce vaccine mandates for employees or patrons.

“With a simple phone call, the Department of Health would have discovered that we do not have a vaccine passport,” Sexton said. “We do not require citizens to show us proof of vaccinations to come into our building or to access services.”

At a press conference on Thursday in Fort Myers, DeSantis echoed his stance on mandates and vaccine passports.

“It’s not good policy to destroy someone’s livelihood, to take their job away,” he said. “It’s also not good policy to unilaterally impose a mandate that you don’t have authority to impose.”

About Matthew Bell

Matthew is a Digital Producer and Reporter for WUFT. His work focuses on sports and education, but he ventures out into other areas as well. In the spring of 2021 and summer of 2022, Matthew worked for ESPN Gainesville where he provided hourly sports updates and wrote for the website. In 2022, Matthew began contributing to The Point Podcast and providing local hourly news updates on All Things Considered. He may be reached by emailing bellmatthew@ufl.edu.

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