City & State New York

New York City will launch its own vaccine passport app next month on top of the state-run Excelsior Pass.

As the COVID-19 delta variant continues to contribute to rising cases across the state, both New York City and the state are taking new steps to promote vaccination and other means of protection from the spread of the virus. On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that state employees would have to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly tests. That came on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement earlier in the week that all city workers would be required to do the same. At the same time, de Blasio encouraged private businesses to institute similar vaccination and testing mandates.

These mandates don’t necessarily mean people will be whipping out their paper CDC vaccination cards at every turn, however. De Blasio said that the city is set to roll out its own version of a vaccine passport app – a digital mobile tool for proving that a person has received a vaccine or a recent negative test for the virus. 

If this sounds familiar, that’s because New York state has already launched such an app. The Excelsior Pass, developed by IBM, was released to the public this spring. Like the app announced by the city, Excelsior Pass accepts proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test for entry into any business using the passport app.Any business requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test is also required to accept other forms of proof, including paper documents, so no one is required to use Excelsior Pass. But despite privacy and equity concerns that have been raised about the app, the state and business groups have said that Excelsior Pass would be a key part of New York’s economic recovery. 


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