ORLANDO, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis called for the Florida legislature to return for a special session aiming to provide more safeguards for workers in the state facing vaccine mandates.
The governor said during a news conference in Clearwater that protections have been provided at the state level for corporations and government agencies, but the special session would also address federal mandates for workers in the state. The governor is proposing several items for the special session to address aimed at providing protections “for employees facing unfair, discriminatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates.”
“We can provide protections at the state level for workers in both corporations and in government agencies, but the question is if a federal mandate comes in, what are they going to do if that conflicts, and that’s one of the reasons why we need to have a two-pronged strategy,” DeSantis said.
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During the governor’s news conference, the former Orange County battalion chief spoke out after he was fired this week for failing to follow a direct order over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. County officials said Stephen Davis was terminated over his refusal to issue disciplinary action over vaccine verifications, which has sparked controversy within the firefighting community in the weeks leading up to his firing.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said vaccinated firefighters “are better prepared to serve than those who are not” during his COVID-19 update Thursday.
“One individual, a battalion chief, chose to be insubordinate and was fired by the fire chief ... I support the action that has been taken in this regard. There is an established process for disciplinary appeals,” Demings continued. “We will aggressively defend our right to protect our citizens and our employees. Let the courts decide what was lawful or not.”
While vaccination efforts continue, federal health officials are looking ahead to vaccines for younger children. On Friday, Pfizer released details of a study showing child-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear safe and nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in 5 to 11-year-olds.
Food and Drug Administration advisers will publicly debate the evidence next week. If the agency ultimately authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make the final decision on who should receive them.
U.S. regulators also approved booster shots for those who previously received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses and also said anyone who is eligible for an extra dose can get it from a different brand than initially received.
[READ THE LAST COVID-19 REPORT: Florida averages 2,780+ daily COVID cases as FDA panel endorses Moderna, J&J boosters]
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Oct. 22.
The Florida Department of Health reported 15,314 new cases on Friday that occurred during the past week, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,635,126 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 2,188 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 106 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 58,803 actually shows there have been 944 new deaths added to the state total. The state has not provided any information as to when these deaths occurred.
The state stopped reporting the number of non-residents who died in Florida with its new weekly reporting method.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration deleted its current COVID-19 hospitalization database and the state is no longer reporting how many patients have been hospitalized with the virus. However, Florida is still required to report that information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC continues to release that information online. The most recent hospital numbers show 2,214 adult and 37 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 3.4% 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.
The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. In the new weekly reports, the state is combining the vaccination data with the COVID-19 infection numbers.
FDOH reports 11,279,765 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.
During the past week, 54,716 new people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Central Florida region
The state is no longer providing a breakdown of county-by-county deaths or hospitalizations as of June 3. The Florida DOH is also no longer providing county numbers for non-residents who have tested positive, causing the total case numbers to drop significantly, in some counties by more than 1,000 cases.
For example, with non-resident positive cases as of June 3, Orange County had reported a total of 143,198 but with the state’s new reporting method, the county has 141,941 total cases, a difference of 1,257 positive cases.
Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases and new vaccination numbers between Oct. 15 - Oct. 21, 2021.
|County||Total cases as of Oct. 21||New cases since Oct. 15||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 12+ population vaccinated|