While New York launches a voluntary ‘COVID passport,’ Gov. Ned Lamont has suggested the private sector may eventually lead similar efforts in Connecticut. But some — including a prominent Democrat in the legislature — are already raising privacy concerns.
The concept of establishing some way to verify that residents have been vaccinated against the coronavirus is under consideration across the country. Proponents say some venues like sporting events, concerts, or restaurants could operate closer to pre-pandemic conditions if patrons could prove they had been vaccinated or recently tested for the virus.
Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of a voluntary digital platform called the “Excelsior Pass,” which New Yorkers can use to prove a vaccination or recent negative test result.
In Connecticut, Lamont has repeatedly called the conversation “premature,” but he’s also speculated that some form of COVID-verification was on the state’s horizon and the effort would be led by private sector forces.
“Let’s give it six weeks. Let’s give everybody an opportunity to get vaccinated,” Lamont said Thursday. “But you’re right. If you want to go to Madison Square Garden, if you want to go on a JetBlue Flight, they say ‘I want to see proof that you’ve been tested or vaccinated.’ Whether you see that moving into our sports venues, see that moving into restaurants and stores, I think the private sector will probably take the lead there.”
In social media posts Tuesday, Rep. Robyn Porter, a New Haven Democrat who is co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, objected to the idea. Porter posted to her Facebook profile a Connecticut Post article, which prominently featured Lamont’s speculation that the state would eventually see some form of a COVID passport.
In a series of comments, Porter denounced the idea, saying it presented a “slippery slope” of privacy and control problems.
“THIS is their backdoor way of mandating it without technically making it a mandate,” Porter wrote in one of several comments. “They are going to try to tell you that you can’t fly, cruise, go to the movies, sports activities, arenas, plays, etc UNLESS you have a COVID VACCINE PASSPORT. Next, it will be you can’t come to work. NOT!!!”
Without naming the governor, the labor panel chair also suggested that some Democrats were advocating for policies which she viewed as Republican.
“THIS is why PARTY affiliation is irrelevant in my book. What REALLY counts is POLICY affiliation. We have people that are REGISTERED Democrats pushing some very REPUBLICAN policies,” she wrote.
Porter did not immediately return calls for comment on Friday. A spokesman for Lamont said the governor had no plans underway or in development to push the COVID passport concept.
The issue is not the first time this session Porter has clashed with the Lamont administration. She has been critical of legislation proposed by the governor to legalize the recreational use and sale of cannabis. Through the labor committee, Porter has advanced her own proposal on the issue, which she says does more help communities that have been damaged by the longtime prohibition of cannabis.