This week, with nearly 20% of the state fully vaccinated, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans for the Golden State to fully reopen its economy on June 15.
But as the state further eases restrictions, and looks to return to pre-pandemic capacity, will Californians be required to show proof-of-vaccination via digital "vaccine passports"?
According to Dee Dee Myers, senior advisor to Newsom, and Director of his Office of Business and Economic Development, the answer is no.
"The state will not stand up its own version of a vaccine passport," Myers told FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson during an interview on The Issue Is. "That's something that we're not preparing to do, but we're looking at how we might provide proof of vaccine, digital proof of vaccine to people who've been vaccinated who can then choose to upload that on another kind of digital app or some other means."
While the state currently has no plans to issue vaccine passports, Myers did remind Californians to keep their vaccine cards readily available as various industries reopen.
"If they're going to an event, or something where they'll need to show that, for example, you'll be able to go to a basketball game if you want indoors, but you will need to be either tested or vaccinated in order to do that," Myers said. "So keep that, keep it safe, take a picture of it, put it in a safe place, make a copy, keep it with you, and we'll provide more information as we go forward."
Myers’ perspective on vaccine passports in California echoed the position taken by NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci when discussing the passports at a national level.
"There may be individual, independent entities, not at the level of the federal government, but there may be some school districts that would say ‘unless you’re vaccinated, you can’t get in,’ or some places of employment that say ‘unless you’re vaccinated, you can’t come in.’ That’s apart from a broad, umbrella concern, or control, of the federal government," Fauci told Michaelson during an appearance last week on The Issue Is. "I don’t think you’re going to see a federal government mandate about that, it might be at the local level though."
With public safety, privacy and ethical concerns in mind, the concept of vaccine passports has become a rather controversial one as more and more Americans are vaccinated.
In recent weeks, Republican leaders from Georgia, Tennessee, Nebraska, and other states have expressed opposition to the idea, with Governors Greg Abbott (R-TX) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL) issuing executive orders banning state and local agencies, as well as businesses, from requiring such proof-of-vaccination.
Democratic Governors such as David Ige (Hawaii), JB Pritzker (Illinois), and Andrew Cuomo (New York), have expressed support for the passports, with Cuomo’s state launching their "Excelsior Pass" last month to prove vaccinations or negative tests.
Regardless of the debate over the vaccine passports, Californians are roughly ten weeks from the state fully reopening.
Some fifteen months after stay-at-home orders were initially put in place, and after some 3.7 million residents tested positive for COVID-19, more than 60,000 dying as a result, Michaelson asked Myers what the Golden State will look like come June 15.
"We’ll be somewhere closer to 40 million people with at least one shot in their arms," Myers said. "Infection rates, hospitalization rates will continue to be very low. We will see a lot of the restrictions on capacity and on how people do business lifted."
"On June 15, we'll go back to a more open economy, with some ongoing safety restrictions, including continuing to wear masks. But the economy and our other organizations, arts organizations and things will be able to proceed, something that will look a lot like it did before March of 2020. So we're really excited about that."
In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Myers also discussed the continued need for masking, the influence the impending recall election had on the decision to reopen, and her excitement over being able to return to the stands to see the World Series Champion Dodgers play in-person.
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.