Weekly COVID Update 11/19: Florida vaccination rates rise

State legislature passes bills to fight Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate.


Eston Parker III

The sun shines through Atlantic Park Towers.

Michael Gennaro, Social Media Manager


Cases are slightly up at the university, with 10 positive cases reported as of Nov. 18; seven of the cases are students and three are employees. Eight of the cases are at the Boca Raton campus and the remaining two are on the Fort Lauderdale campus. Last week, there were eight cases, all at the Boca Raton campus.

There have been 485 accumulated cases since the start of the fall semester. Nearly 90% of the positive cases occurred at the Boca Raton campus.

Palm Beach County

In Palm Beach County, vaccination rates remain at 61%, according to New York Times data. The county is averaging 95 new cases per day, a 17% decrease over the previous two weeks of data.


Vaccination rates increased in the state for the first time since Nov. 5. Florida vaccination rates now sit at 61%. The state is averaging 1,454 cases per day, a 10% decrease over the previous two weeks of data.

Republicans passed four bills on Wednesday, Nov. 17 aimed at curtailing mask and vaccination mandates in the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has argued that President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate is government overreach.

The bills that were passed banned vaccine mandates for public schools and local governments, and gave parents the final decision on whether their children should wear masks or get vaccinated.

The bills also allowed vaccine mandates for private businesses as long as companies have exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Employees can opt out in Florida if they are unwilling to take the vaccine, and could instead wear masks or get tested. The masks and tests must be paid for by the employer.

In addition, the legislature imposed fines of $50,000 per violation of workplaces that have 100 or more employees that mandate vaccines outside the allowable state guidelines. Smaller employers can receive fines of $10,000 if they violate the guidelines.

Finally, lawmakers allocated $1 million to DeSantis’ office for a study about leaving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Biden’s mandate states that all businesses that employ 100 or more workers must ensure that their workers are vaccinated, or are tested weekly if they opt-out of the shots. The testing opt-out does not apply to federal contractors. A federal court of appeals currently has the mandate on hold. It is set to go into effect on Jan. 4, 2022.

DeSantis’ new surgeon general, Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo said on Thursday, Nov. 18 that the vaccine “has not been shown to improve any child’s health.”

“Same things for the masks,” he said. “There’s no evidence that it actually helps improve the health of children.”

Ladapo’s opinion is not supported by evidence. A new global study published in the British Medical Journal on Nov. 18 concluded that mask wearing is the single most effective way to prevent coronavirus infection, according to Axios. Mask wearing reduces the chance of an individual contracting COVID-19 by 53%, according to the new study.

Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, told the New York Times that Ladapo refused to wear a mask in a meeting with her last month, even after Polsky told Ladapo she had health problems and asked him to. Polsky later revealed that she had recently undergone surgery for breast cancer.

Ladapo was told to leave Polsky’s office after refusing to wear a mask. Ladapo has declined to share his vaccination status.

Michael Gennaro is a staff writer and social media manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or message him on Twitter or Instagram @mycoolgennaro