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Florida Gov Praises Special Olympics Victory Removes Vax Mandate After Threatening $27.5 Million Fine

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis praised the Special Olympics Committee’s decision to revoke a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from participating in their competitions after threatening a $27.5 million fine.

Just hours after the Florida Department of Health sent a letter of violation to the Special Olympics Inc. (SOI), the committee announced that it no longer requires athletes to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The governor threatened the SOI with a $27.5 million fine for 5,500 violations.

“Your rights or your freedoms should not be limited by your decision whether or not to take a COVID vaccine,” DeSantis, 43, said at a news conference Friday at Rio Pinar Golf & Country Club in Orlando.

‘What connection’ [vaccinations] have to compete, I don’t understand,” he praised. “Some of these things are — we’ve never used anything like this vaccine to try to marginalize unfavorable people — to try to deny people full freedom and full rights.

“And going after special Olympians, who just wanted to compete, was against Florida law and it’s not the right thing to do. Make them compete! We want everyone to be able to compete.’

His speech was heralded by wild applause as he stood with officials and special Olympians.

However, the SOI said they were not looking for a fight and also wanted athletes to compete.

‘We don’t want to fight. We want to play,” the SOI announced on Thursday, a few days before the event was scheduled to start on June 5 in Orlando.

Governor Ron DeSantis (pictured Thursday) signed a bill earlier this year that would cost businesses, businesses and schools $5,000 per violation if customers were required to show proof of vaccination

Florida Gov.  Ron DeSantis tosses a pen after signing a record $109.9 billion state budget Thursday, June 2, 2022 in The Villages

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tosses a pen after signing a record $109.9 billion state budget Thursday, June 2, 2022 in The Villages

DeSantis has been vocal about mask and vaccine mandates during the pandemic. Florida was one of the first to abolish the mask mandate and never allowed “vaccine passports,” unlike many states, such as New York and California.

The Republican signed a bill earlier this year that would allow businesses, businesses and schools to be fined $5,000 per violation if customers are required to show proof of vaccination.

In a letter to SOI, the Department of Health said the commission was “unable to reconcile the event” with the Florida statues by “denying entry based on proof of vaccination.”

The department gave SOI 30 days to pay the fine.

The SOI quickly moved to change the ruling, stating that “delegates registered for the Games but unable to participate due to previous vaccine requirements” can now attend the Orlando event, which will run until June 12.

The committee also said it has been “courageous” for the past 54 years to accommodate athletes – all of whom have intellectual or physical disabilities.

DailyMail.com has contacted the SOI for comment.

Florida has been a beacon during the pandemic as officials often went against the recommendations of public health organizations as citizens and politicians alike rebuked mandates.

The Special Olympics Inc.  (SOI) said they didn't want to

The Special Olympics Inc. (SOI) said they didn’t want to “fight” just to “play” after announcing they would no longer require delegates to be vaccinated. It also said anyone denied due to their vaccination status would now be allowed to ‘attend’

The Florida Department of Health gave the SOI 30 days to pay the fine.  The SOI has since changed its policy

The Florida Department of Health gave the SOI 30 days to pay the fine. The SOI has since changed its policy

DeSantis also claimed earlier this year that Florida was doing well during the pandemic, despite being a hot spot at some points due to spring break and summer travel. The Sunshine State has fallen significantly in cases since the Omicron outbreak in January and currently has a positivity rate of 19 percent.

Despite the governor’s consistent disapproval of anything related to COVID-19, nearly 70 percent of Florida residents have been fully vaccinated.

It’s unclear whether the Republican leader himself has been vaccinated or challenged, as he has consistently maintained that his vaccination status is a “private matter.”

“That’s something you know, I think people should just make their own decisions,” he said in January. “I don’t let that be a weapon that people can use. I think it’s a private matter.’

Even as he keeps his vaccine status tucked away, his administration won’t shut up about its disapproval of the CDC potentially recommending children under 5 years of age are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Florida health experts deemed the move “irresponsible.”

“The Florida Department of Health will be the first state to officially discourage COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children,” Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said in March.

Ladapo has become a controversial figure for having previously pushed drugs such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for the virus, despite there being no evidence to support them.

In recent months, some health experts have expressed concerns or doubts about vaccinating children.

Children are at low risk from COVID-19, with an ever-growing body of data showing that they are not nearly as affected by it as adults.

The CDC reports that children are only responsible for less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the US since the start of the pandemic.

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