Over the weekend we looked at the new Excelsior Pass that will be required in New York State starting tomorrow if you want to attend any large, public events, including wedding receptions. That document, either on paper or presented digitally through an app on your phone, functions as a vaccine passport or immunity passport. You can’t get one unless you have proof that you’ve been vaccinated or you can get a temporary one if you produce a fresh, negative COVID test. Without the passport, you will be restricted from most nonessential public activities.
Despite the Orwellian feel of such a scheme, it turns out that the Biden administration thinks this sounds like a fine idea. In fact, they’re already hard at work cooking up a federal version of that plan. But even White House officials acknowledge that scaling such a system up to cover a nation of nearly 350 million people is going to present “challenges.” (San Diego Union Tribune)
The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials – often referred to as “vaccine passports” – that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen.
The effort has gained momentum amid President Joe Biden’s pledge that the nation will start to regain normalcy this summer and with a growing number of companies – from cruise lines to sports teams – saying they will require proof of vaccination before opening their doors again.
The administration’s initiative has been driven largely by arms of the Department of Health and Human Services, including an office devoted to health information technology, said five officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the effort.
One White House official somewhat ironically expressed their desire to make sure the administration was able to “avoid the perception of a government mandate to be vaccinated.” But how else would you describe such a plan? The AP reports that during a recent conference call with health officials from HHS and the CDC, one participant noted that “vaccine passports could motivate skeptical Americans to get shots.”
Ya think? The Biden administration seems to be aware that they won’t be able to get away with an executive mandate saying that everyone has to be vaccinated. But they can create a system where anyone who either can’t or won’t sign up for a jab will be effectively on lockdown for all but the most essential activities from here on out. This is simply a case of blackmail, with the “reward” for compliance being your God-given freedom of movement and public interaction.
While we’re on the subject of access, how fast does the White House plan to roll this out? As of this morning, just shy of 28% of Americans have had at least one dose of the vaccines and 15.7% have been fully vaccinated. We’re still a long way from the finish line, no matter how you choose to define that. All across the country, there are millions of people who aren’t even eligible to be vaccinated even if they’re begging for a shot. Others are eligible but unable to register for an appointment. Still others have underlying health conditions or comorbidities that make being vaccinated a risky choice that their doctor may advise against. What do you plan to say to those people when they attempt to patronize a newly reopened business and are turned away for lack of a passport?
I hate to keep harping on this, but this is precisely the situation I was warning about back in December when I wrote about the seemingly unavoidable arrival of a two-tier society comprised of people with our without immunity passports. And the most frightening part of all of this is the reality that the government may be considering making this a permanent condition. The new rules taking effect in New York tomorrow do not include a sunset date. I’m not hearing anything from these initial White House announcements suggesting how they will define the point where these passports are no longer needed.
Eventually, probably by some time this summer or fall, we’re going to have so many Americans vaccinated that case numbers will drop to roughly the same level as the seasonal flu. And COVID will eventually be no more lethal on a per capita basis than the flu. The only reason we had so many more people dying of COVID was that nobody had any level of immunity to this new virus when we started, while vast numbers of Americans get a flu vaccine every year. Some studies last year revealed a significantly higher mortality rate for COVID, but those numbers are already coming down as the medical community learns more about how to deal with the disease.
The point is, we never needed any damn “passports” to demonstrate that we’d gotten a flu vaccination. Sitting meekly by and allowing this “passport” system to become a permanent feature of American life should not be an option in my opinion.