Orange County mayor addresses possible lawsuit from firefighters over vaccine mandate

87% of all county employees complied with mandate, mayor says

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings spoke about the potential of the county facing a lawsuit from some of its firefighters during a news conference on Monday.

The news conference was held at the Orange County Administration Center just days after the deadline passed for all county employees to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The mandate calls for all county employees to be fully vaccinated by Halloween.

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Demings said the county has not formally been served with the lawsuit.

“There is approximately 40 firefighters — out of the 1,300 fire personnel who serve in Orange County — exercising their individual rights in that regard. We’ll wait to see what happens if the lawsuit is indeed filed and we’re served with it,” the mayor said.

Demings later added that the county had reached an agreement last week with the firefighters union regarding the vaccine mandate and the personnel involved in this potential lawsuit are retaining private counsel.

“Our county attorney has advised me that we (have) solid legal ground,” Demings said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis had previously threatened to fine cities and counties which issued vaccine mandates for their employees up to $5,000 per violation. He even called out Orange County when making that announcement; however, Demings said the county has not been issued any fines by the state.

Despite the ongoing opposition to the vaccine mandates, Demings said the vast majority of county employees had complied with the rule.

“Eighty-seven percent of all county employees complied with the mandate — 95% of all non-union employees complied and 77% of union employees,” he said.

At the same time, the county is reporting a decrease in the number of new COVID-19 infections.

Alvina Chu, with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said the 14-day rolling positivity rate currently stands at 7.67%. She added that this was the “10th consecutive day with the 14-day rolling percent positivity under 10%.”

Chu also reported 45 new deaths from the disease within the county since the last briefing on Thursday. Two of the deaths were from long-term care facilities, three were fully vaccinated and two were partially vaccinated.

The county is reporting that 74% of the eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and that 64% of eligible residents are completely vaccinated.

Demings announced that the county vaccination site at Camping World Stadium will be moving to Barnett Park starting on Saturday. The Barnett Park site will only be offering the Pfizer vaccine, Demings added.

The county currently has three locations for COVID-19 testing — Barnett Park, the Econ Soccer Complex and the former Clarcona Elementary School. However, the Clarcona site will cease operations on Sunday.

The Florida Department of Health reported 37,772 new cases on Friday that occurred during the past week, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,576,571 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 5,396 new infections reported per day.

Even though the Florida DOH released numbers once a week, the state is still reporting daily infections to the CDC. Below is the CDC daily number, which is 24 hours behind.

Florida reported 233 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week, but the cumulative death toll of 55,299 actually shows there have been 1,719 new deaths added to the state total. The state has not provided any information as to when these deaths occurred.

The state no longer reports the number of non-residents who died in Florida.

The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 6.5% but did not provide how many people were tested during the past week. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.


About the Authors:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.