Gov. Cuomo announced the launch of a new pass that's "similar to a mobile airline boarding pass," but for a COVID vaccine or test.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of Excelsior Pass - a free, voluntary platform developed in partnership with IBM, which utilizes proven, secure technology to confirm an individual's recent negative PCR or antigen test result or proof of vaccination to help fast-track the reopening of businesses and event venues in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidelines.

According to Cuomo's office, the Excelsior Pass is "similar to a mobile airline boarding pass." Individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app. Each Pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. An individual's data is kept secure and confidential at all times, officials say.

Many, including USA Today, are calling the Excelsior Pass a "vaccine passport."

As part of this initial launch, participating New Yorkers may choose to use Excelsior Pass to verify their COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results as needed to gain entry to major stadiums and arenas, wedding receptions, or catered and other events above the social gathering limit.

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Interested New Yorkers can opt in to use Excelsior Pass and learn more here; interested businesses can opt-in and learn more here. Major venues have already announced they will begin utilizing this technology in the coming weeks, including Madison Square Garden in New York City beginning next week and the Times Union Center in Albany.

Beginning April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to smaller arts, entertainment and event venues.

"New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure," Cuomo said. "The question of 'public health or the economy' has always been a false choice — the answer must be both. As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening."

New York State is the first state in the U.S. to formally launch this potentially transformational technology. Prior to its launch, two successful pilot demonstrations were held in recent weeks, along with a beta test where thousands of New Yorkers participated in a limited roll out of the technology to provide feedback on user interface and results.

Interested New Yorkers can download the Excelsior Pass Wallet app for Android here and for iOS here. Interested businesses can download the Excelsior Pass Scanner app for Android here and for iOS here.

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