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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

White House questions Florida's special session on vaccine mandates

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks
AP
White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says the Department of Labor is obligated to enact policies to protect the workforce and avoid disruptions due to employees getting sick with COVID-19.

During Tuesday's media briefing, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre asked, "why are these legislators, these Republicans ... getting in the way of saving lives,"

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that Florida Republican lawmakers are impeding efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic as they approach a special session called by Gov. Ron DeSantis to target vaccination and mask mandates.

Asked about DeSantis’ efforts, Jean-Pierre told reporters at the White House that the virus continues to result in the deaths of 1,100 Americans a day.

DeSantis, in part, has attacked a rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration that would require vaccinations of tens of millions of workers nationwide. But Jean-Pierre said the Department of Labor is obligated to enact policies to protect the workforce and avoid disruptions due to employees getting sick with COVID-19.

“The question is, really that I have, is why are these legislators, these Republicans getting in the way of that, getting in the way of saving lives, getting in the way of us making sure that the economy is working as well, and getting out of this pandemic?” Jean-Pierre, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, said. “And so that's the question for them.”

The special session will be held next week.

In related news, Florida's Board of Education has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to consider a U.S. Department of Education complaint seeking to prevent the state from withholding funds from school districts that received federal money to cover school board members’ salaries.

The cease-and-desist complaint was filed Oct. 28 in the federal department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. It stems from the state imposing financial penalties on school districts that required students to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. The penalties target amounts of money equal to school board members’ salaries.

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