Republicans at federal and state levels are protesting the potential use of vaccine passports to give people access to certain facilities, activities, and events.
New York last week became the first state to formally launch a virtual pass, which proponents say helps revitalize businesses that faced tough restrictions during the pandemic.
The Biden administration announced that decisions on such proof of coronavirus vaccination largely will be left up to local governments and business owners, so other states, counties, and cities undoubtedly will address the issue.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has urged his state’s GOP-controlled legislature to pass a law forbidding documentation showing proof of vaccination. He vowed to take executive action if need be, according to The Hill on Wednesday.
"It's completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society," DeSantis, a Republican, said Monday.
Congressional Republicans also have blasted the passports, calling them invasive.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., tweeted that "Vaccine Passports are unconstitutional."
Proof-of-vaccination supporters have said such passports will help stimulate businesses hardest hit by the pandemic. They include travel and entertainment.
"The cruise lines, for instance, want to get people back on cruises. Airlines want to get people back traveling. And quite frankly, I want to get back traveling again as well, because I haven't been on an airplane since March and I used to travel all the time," said Tim Paydos, global vice president of IBM’s government industry business.
"I only want to get on that airplane if I feel reasonably safe that everyone in there is healthy, and that the airline is taking care of me. And so that's what this is really all about."
IBM was in talks with "just about every state" and federal agencies about such passes, according to Paydos.
Requiring vaccine passports would minimize the risks of spreading the virus and would speed up the verification process, proponents say.
New York's Excelsior Pass, created in partnership with IBM, allows people to show they have been vaccinated before attending events where proof is required.
The number of permissible wedding guest attendees in The Empire State went from 50 to 150, as long as all attendees have proof of a negative test result or vaccination. The state also has allowed fans to return to arenas and stadiums with similar requirements.
Gov. Ned Lamont, D-Conn., Monday signaled Connecticut might pursue a similar pass in the coming months.
"I think it's a little premature, only in that not everyone has the vaccine available to them yet. But I like to think within a month or two when broadly available, I think you will see some type of vaccine passport or validation, probably led by the private sector," Lamont said.
Other Republican governors have joined DeSantis in saying they do not support such passports.
Gov. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., criticized the Biden administration for "one of the most un-American ideas in our nation’s history," even though the administration has not provided any guidance on the issue.
"The @joebiden #CovidPassport proposal is one of the most un American ideas in our nation’s history. We as Americans should oppose this oppression," Noem tweeted Monday night.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the White House will neither create a federal mandate requiring citizens to obtain a single vaccination credential, nor create a centralized federal vaccination database.
"We're going to provide guidance, just as we have through the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]," Psaki said. "There’s currently an interagency process that is looking at many of the questions around vaccine verification."
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