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Orange County's health director has been reinstated. He was on leave after a vaccine email to staff.

Matthew Peddie
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The state placed Dr. Raul Pino on administrative leave in January while it investigated an email he sent to staff citing its low COVID vaccine rates and encouraging employees to get the shot.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says county health officer Dr. Raul Pino will be returning to work after about two months on administrative leave.

Pino works for the Florida Department of Health, which placed him on leave in early January after he sent an email to his staff citing its low COVID-19 vaccine rates and encouraging employees to get the shot.

In the email, he wrote, “I have a hard time understanding how we can be in public health and not practice it.”

The state opened an investigation to see if any law was broken and issued a statement saying getting vaccinated is a personal choice and employees should be “free from coercion.”

The mayor — who described Pino as an ally with “sage advice” during the pandemic — announced the reinstatement during an interview on WDBO on Friday morning. Demings says it shows that Pino “was essentially vindicated of any serious wrongdoings.”

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Pino will return to work Tuesday.

Joe Byrnes