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The New York Post reports that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced "the rollout of a new pilot program in which New Yorkers would have to flash a sort of COVID-19 passport in order to enter sports arenas, theaters and other businesses as the state continues reopening efforts.

"The plan is to test the 'Excelsior Pass,' which will use secure technology to confirm if a person has gotten vaccinated or has had a recent negative COVID-19 exam result, during events at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, Cuomo said in a statement."

"“The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal,” he said.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has a broader story on the subject, framing it this way:

"The next major flash point over coronavirus response has already provoked cries of tyranny and discrimination in Britain, protests in Denmark, digital disinformation in the United States and geopolitical skirmishing within the European Union.

"The subject of debate: vaccine passports — government-issued cards or smartphone badges stating that the bearer has been inoculated against the coronavirus.

"The idea is to allow families to reunite, economies to restart and hundreds of millions of people who have received a shot to return to a degree of normalcy, all without spreading the virus. Some versions of the documentation might permit bearers to travel internationally.  Others would allow entry to vaccinated-only spaces like gyms, concert venues and restaurants.

"While such passports are still hypothetical in most places, Israel became the first to roll out its own last week, capitalizing on its high vaccination rate. Several European countries are considering following. President Biden has asked federal agencies to explore options. And some airlines and tourism-reliant industries and destinations expect to require them.

"Dividing the world between the vaccinated and unvaccinated raises daunting political and ethical questions. Vaccines go overwhelmingly to rich countries and privileged racial groups within them. Granting special rights for the vaccinated, while tightening restrictions on the unvaccinated, risks widening already-dangerous social gaps."

You can read the Times story here.

KC's View:

This is an interesting subject, though I'm not sure we'll get to the point where retailers will require a passport to get in.  It is so much easier just to require people to wear a mask.

The New York move is interesting … at some level, because I am a cynic, I think that what Cuomo really wants and needs is a vaccination that will keep him in office despite all the accusations swirling about deceiving the public about pandemic-related nursing home deaths last year, not to mention sexual harassment charges being leveled at him by multiple women.

The political and ethical questions raised by the Times are real, since there already are many questions being raised about a higher percentage of Covid deaths seen in minority communities, and less access to vaccinations.

Just yesterday, the Miami Herald reported on how, "as Florida’s eldest residents struggled to sign up to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, nearly all those aged 65 years and older in a wealthy gated enclave in the Florida Keys had been vaccinated by mid-January … The management of Ocean Reef Club, located in north Key Largo, also acknowledged in the Jan. 22 message to residents that the rest of the state was grappling to get its hands on the vaccine."

The one thing that virtually all the wealthy residents of the Ocean Reef Club have in common - they are politically connected.

Passports that are seen as allowing some people in and those other people out will be problematic, I suspect, because they'll be seen as being about something other than whether folks got a shot in their arms.