Florida’s prime public well being official in Orlando has been positioned on administrative depart after sending an electronic mail to his workers noting their lackluster coronavirus vaccination charges and urging them to get the pictures.
The official — Dr. Raul Pino, the administrator for the Florida Division of Well being’s workplace in Orange County — despatched the e-mail on Jan. 4, within the thick of a surge in instances brought on by the Omicron variant.
Within the electronic mail, Dr. Pino mentioned that he had requested a employees member to tug out the vaccination charges for the workplace, and that the figures had been alarming: Of the workplace’s 568 workers, solely 219 — fewer than half — had accomplished a full vaccination sequence, and simply 77 of them had acquired a booster shot, a quantity he known as “SUPER LOW.”
“I’m sorry, however within the absence of affordable and actual causes, it’s irresponsible to not be vaccinated,” Dr. Pino wrote within the electronic mail, which was first reported by WFTV, the native ABC Information affiliate. He known as the workplace’s vaccination fee “pathetic.”
“I’ve a tough time understanding how we might be in public well being and never follow it,” he added.
Jeremy T. Redfern, the press secretary for the Division of Well being, confirmed in a press release that Dr. Pino was on administrative depart, and that the division was “conducting an inquiry to find out if any legal guidelines had been damaged on this case.”
The choice to get vaccinated “is a private medical selection that must be made free from coercion and mandates from employers,” Mr. Redfern wrote.
Florida has enacted a regulation banning Covid vaccine mandates, together with for presidency workers. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has raised his nationwide political profile by curbing virus restrictions of every kind within the state.
It’s unclear whether or not Dr. Pino was positioned on depart for urging workers to get vaccinated, for compiling their vaccination standing, or for each. The Division of Well being didn’t reply to particular questions in regards to the matter, together with whether or not Dr. Pino’s depart is paid or unpaid. Dr. Pino didn’t reply to calls searching for remark.
In Florida, native public well being places of work are centrally run by the state Division of Well being, not by particular person counties as in lots of different states.
Dr. Pino, a former commissioner of the Connecticut Division of Public Well being, was appointed to go the Orange County well being workplace in 2019. He’s Cuban-American and speaks Spanish in addition to English, an asset in multicultural Orlando.
Dr. Pino has been a fixture at common information briefings updating Orange County residents in regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, making him probably the most seen public well being officers within the state. His counterparts in different giant counties have tended to seem principally at county fee conferences or to keep away from the highlight altogether.
The information briefings in Orlando have been organized by Mayor Jerry L. Demings, a Democrat, who has criticized Mr. DeSantis for impeding native governments from taking actions to restrict the unfold of the virus. A spokeswoman for Mr. Demings introduced on Wednesday that the mayor had examined optimistic.
Supply: NY Times