Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York recently announced the first digital COVID-19 passport in which people can prove that they have tested negative for the virus or have been vaccinated. Participation in the program is voluntary.
According to The Christian Post, Excelsior Pass, which can be downloaded as a free app, was developed in partnership with IBM, can be used in participating venues and businesses per state guidelines.
In a press release issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, the Excelsior Pass is similar to "a mobile boarding pass," which also permits individuals to print out their pass "or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app."
The pass features a QR Code that "businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination."
"Major venues have already announced they will begin utilizing this technology in the coming weeks, including Madison Square Garden in New York City beginning next week and the Times Union Center in Albany," the press release continued. "Beginning April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to smaller arts, entertainment and event venues."
Cuomo, who initially announced the initiative in this year's state of the state address, praised New Yorkers for following public health guidelines calling the Excelsior Pass "another tool" in fighting the virus and reopening "more sectors of the economy safely and keeping personal information secure."
"The question of 'public health or the economy' has always been a false choice — the answer must be both," Cuomo asserts. "As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day, and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening."
New York is the first state in the U.S. to launch a virtual vaccine passport.
Republicans were critical of the concept of COVID vaccine passports.
"Vaccine Passports are unconstitutional. Period," tweeted congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-CO).
Florida Gov. Ron Desantis denounced the concept of COVID vaccine passports and has issued an executive order banning it from ever being used in the Sunshine state.
"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 be able to participate in normal society," he said during a press conference last Monday, NPR reports.