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Florida Gov. DeSantis offers $5,000 bonus to lure anti-vax police from out of state

October 25, 2021, 7:35 PM UTC

All of those police officers who don’t want to get vaccinated? Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis invites them to move to his state.

The Republican announced on Fox News on Sunday that he is recruiting out-of-state, unvaccinated police officers, and that he hopes to soon sign legislation to offer a $5,000 bonus to each one who relocates. A message from DeSantis to first responders at risk of losing their jobs: “NYPD, Minneapolis, Seattle…if you’re not being treated well, we’ll treat you better here. You can fill important needs for us and we’ll compensate you as a result.” DeSantis confirmed Florida is “looking to actively recruit” new law enforcement and asserted that people should not lose their jobs over their “personal decision” to forgo the vaccine.

DeSantis has a history of opposing vaccine mandates, advocating in August to restrict funding for two Florida school districts that require masks, citing the mandate’s disregard for parental oversight. In September, he appointed Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a medical professor who openly opposes vaccines, as Florida’s surgeon general. Last week, during a press conference, Ladapo backed DeSantis’s vaccine hesitancy, encouraging the public to “stick with their intuition” when it comes to the mandate because “these vaccines are not preventing transmission.”

DeSantis is among many who are troubled by vaccine mandates. While Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot required vaccines for city employees, today the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, John Catanzara, led a rally outside City Hall against the mandate and to support workers placed on “no-pay status.” New York City recently required vaccines for all public employees, who must get their first shot by Oct. 29, but yesterday, hundreds of municipal workers protested. Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, predicts “anywhere between 25% to 35% of firehouses may close.”

Following suit with Biden’s push for vaccination of all federal employees, private sector employees, health care workers, and businesses with more than 100 workers, corporations like Amtrak, CVS, and Delta Air Lines are now requiring vaccines and many are firing workers for not complying. Economist AnnElizabeth Konkel at online job board Indeed, noted that at the end of August, there was a 119% surge in the number of job listings requiring vaccination.

According to DeSantis, a high number of workers whose contracts are terminated for refusing vaccines could “wreak havoc on the economy.” Such workers who are fired risk jeopardizing receiving any unemployment benefits and make finding a new position even harder. DeSantis also claimed that the mandate ignores that “most of those first responders have had COVID and have recovered,” and now have strong immunity. The National Institutes of Health’s research in January did find that recovery from the COVID-19 virus could provide some temporary immunity, but a more recent study found that a vaccine significantly strengthens the body’s ability to fight the virus even after recovering from it once. Although Florida has had high COVID-19 case rates, it’s currently among the states with the lowest number of new daily cases, based on a seven-day average, at eight per 100,000 residents, according to New York Times data. While gunfire has been the leading cause of death of police officers for the past three years, now five times as many police officers have died from COVID-19 as they have from guns since the beginning of the pandemic.

DeSantis told Fox News that his goal is to both benefit his own state while offsetting the “disruptions in medical, in logistics, [and] in law enforcement [fields]” as thousands of workers either lose their jobs or walk off. A portion of the U.S. population is still suspicious of the vaccine and would rather lose work than get the shot, but a Kaiser Family Foundation poll suggests that this could change soon. The data shows that while parents of children ages 5 to 11 remain hesitant, almost half of parents of teens report having vaccinated their child at least once. While in July, 23% of parents with children ages 12 to 17 said they wouldn’t vaccinate their child, now only 15% refuse.

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