As the vaccine rollout ramps up across the country, federal and state governments are working to figure out how to develop new COVID policy (https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/545670-battle-rages-over-vaccine-passports?rl=1). Since the pandemic began over 30 million Americans have gotten COVID, with over 550,000 dying. While numbers have fluctuated recently, cases seem to be trending in an overall positive direction. As it currently stands, 96,055,046 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 53,423,486 of that number being fully vaccinated. The vaccine is available to individuals 18 and up, (or 16 and up if you receive the Pfizer one), meaning that over 200,000,000 people are potentially eligible to be vaccinated.
With all this being said, the federal and state governments are taking differing approaches to address a rapidly growing immunized population. The White House has left many decisions up to state and local governments, offering guidance as needed. Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently said, “We’re going to provide guidance, just as we have through the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. There’s currently an interagency process that is looking at many of the questions around vaccine verification.” Republicans were concerned that President Biden would take a more active role in COVID policy, especially regarding masks and vaccinations, but this seems to largely follow the hands off approach from the previous administration.
One policy that has received attention recently is vaccine passports. Many states are starting to require proof of vaccination in order to attend specific events or travel out of state. New York instituted the Excelsior Pass and Connecticut may soon follow. Conversely many Republican governors are pushing back including Gov. Rick DeSantis (FL) and Gov. Kristi Noem (SD). They are concerned that such measures would be unconstitutional and an infringement of rights, especially if it is ultimately instituted at the federal level. The Biden Administration has tried to reassure critics that it will not pursue such measures, but it could see increased pressure from Democratic states and representatives. Are COVID passports and infringement of rights or will they help speed up the process of reopening?
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