Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis denounced so-called “vaccine passports” in a Monday press conference — a policy currently being tested in New York State and one the Biden administration is reportedly developing, according to The Washington Post. Vaccine passports are digital credentials, a way of proving the carrier has received a COVID-19 immunization before frequenting a venue or traveling.
DeSantis said he would take “an executive function” and “emergency function” and urged the state Republican legislature to propose legislation banning vaccine passports.
“We always said we wanted to provide [the vaccine] for all but mandate it for none,” DeSantis said. “While it was advised to take, particularly if you’re vulnerable, we were not going to force you to do it. 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.”
The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Biden administration is working with Big Tech to develop vaccine passport technology. Five administration officials told the media outlet that coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients is leading the operation.
In January, 30 international airlines penned a letter to Zients urging the U.S. to implement vaccine passports for all citizens for travel. This followed an executive order by Biden instructing government agencies “to assess the feasibility” of COVID-19 documentation requirements.
On March 2, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo initiated an “excelsior pass” plan that will require residents to demonstrate they have received the vaccine to gain access to Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. The plan will start on April 2 and apply to several other “arts, entertainment, and event venues.”
“As we begin reopening the valves on different sectors of our economy, we are putting guidelines in place to ensure individuals attending events involving larger gatherings have tested negative for COVID or have been vaccinated to avoid an outbreak of the virus,” Cuomo said.
White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt claims the Biden administration is not “viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens.” Slavitt added that “we view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do,” which corroborates with the reports that Microsoft, Mayo Clinic, and more than 225 organizations have “pledged” to use an application being developed by the Vaccination Credential Initiative.
The Florida governor said in the press conference that by sometime this week the state will have administered the vaccine to 75 percent of seniors, or 3.5 million individuals.
“You want the fox to guard the henhouse? I mean, give me a break,” DeSantis said. “I think this is something that has huge privacy implications. It is not necessary to do. It’s important to be able to do it [get the vaccine], but at the same time, we are not going to have you provide proof of this just to be able to live your life normally.”