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Dr. Raul Pino is returning to the Orange County health department after pro-vaccine email leads to investigation

Photo: Orange County
Matthew Peddie
Photo: Orange County

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.

He had sent an email to his staff, citing their low COVID-19 vaccine rates, and encouraging them to get fully vaccinated.

The state opened an investigation 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 his reinstatement during an interview on WDBO-FM Friday morning. Demings says it shows that Pino "was essentially vindicated of any serious wrongdoings."

As of 3:30 p.m. Friday, the Health Department had not answered emails seeking more information.

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

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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