Reynolds pledges stand against vaccine passports

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Kyle Ocker, Ottumwa Courier, Iowa
·4 min read
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Apr. 7—OTTUMWA — They don't yet exist, but Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday said she intends to find a way to ban them.

So-called vaccine passports are one of the ideas being circulated as more and more are inoculated with one of three vaccines offered under emergency use authorizations. They would offer digital proof to verify whether an American has been vaccinated for the coronavirus. They're proposed as a way for businesses and entities to convince Americans other patrons or attendees have been vaccinated.

Reynolds said she encourages Iowans to get vaccinated, saying Wednesday she believes in the efficacy of the vaccine options. But she continued on a familiar tone, saying getting vaccinated is a personal choice but that she trusts Iowans "to do the right thing."

"I strongly oppose vaccine passports," Reynolds said. "And I believe that we must take a stand as a state against them, which I intend to do either through legislation or executive action."

Reynolds said she feels vaccine passports, or similar proposal, would create a two-tiered society. She also had concerns with "big government" and how they would use this data.

"I think there's all kinds of questions that are really raised with moving in that direction — privacy implications, HIPAA, First and Fourth Amendment rights, Americans with Disabilities [Act]," Reynolds said. "I think what you're doing when you move forward with something like that is you're creating a two-tiered society, and it's you either engage or you're marginalized."

This week, vaccines were opened up to all Iowa citizens above the age of 16 years old, a move many states are making. President Joe Biden has said by April 19 states must open up eligibility to all currently authorized to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

Those between the ages of 16 and 18 are only able to take the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, as it was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for those above 16. The other two vaccines, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, were authorized for those above the age of 18.

As of Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported that about 21.4% of Iowa's population has received all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson shot only requires one dose, while Moderna and Pfizer each require two doses to be most effective.

Another 11.8% of Iowans have received their first of two required doses.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the state distributed 15,646 more doses to Iowans.

Wapello County has completed vaccination series for 27.5% of its residents as of Wednesday, or a total of 9,618. Another 6,003 have received their first dose.

The number of residents receiving all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in area counties includes 6,604 in Van Buren, 2,753 in Jefferson, 2,307 in Appanoose, 1,639 in Monroe and 1,485 in Davis.

Data from the White House COVID-19 Team show the rate of new coronavirus cases in Iowa was up 16% last week, and the rate of new deaths was up 19%.

The report, released Tuesday that contained data for the week ending April 2, classified Iowa as having a high community transmission rate of the virus. Of the state's 99 counties, all but one was classified as at least a moderate transmission rate while 35 counties rated a substantial rate of transmission of 35 rated high.

No local counties earned the designation of "red" for high transmission rates, but Wapello, Appanoose, Monroe and Van Buren were classified as having substantial transmission.

New state data on Wednesday reported 758 new individuals tested positive with the coronavirus, including four in Monroe, two in Appanoose, two in Wapello and one in Jefferson.

There were 13 new deaths reported, including one in Wapello — the county's 120th since the pandemic began. The state regularly reports deaths on a delay, taking days and weeks to add deaths publicly after a verification process. To date, there have been 5,835 deaths reported in Iowa.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.