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Barcoding Americans: Is White House planning to use QR codes to verify vaccination status?

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By Jenny Goldsberry

A CBS reporter grilled White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients on vaccine QR codes during a press conference Thursday. This comes as more businesses across the nation began requiring proof of vaccination.

“Now that more entities are requiring more vaccines, is the administration reconsidering something like a QR code or a passport to help verify people’s vaccination status?” the reporter asked. “And if not, what are you doing to stop the proliferation of fake vaccine cards?”

“There are a number of ways people can demonstrate their vaccination status,” Zients replied. “Companies and organizations and the government are taking different approaches. We applaud this innovation.”

However, he was clear that the White House will not get involved in creating vaccination QR codes. “There will be no federal vaccination database,” Zients said. “As with all other vaccines the data gets held at the state and local level.”

Yet he didn’t dismiss the idea entirely, suggesting that local entities could test it out. Zients himself said he would support it as long as it met “key standards, including affordability, being available both digitally and on paper and importantly protecting people’s privacy and security.”

On the other hand, when it comes to fraudulent vaccination cards, he had much stronger words. “We are aware of some causes of fraud. Counterfeit COVID-19 cards being advertised on social media sites and e-commerce platforms,” Zients said. “While the practice is not widespread I will remind everyone that it’s a crime. The office of the Inspector General the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating these schemes.”

Meanwhile, San Fransisco’s Mayor London Breed announced that customers at high-contact indoor businesses will be required to share their vaccination status.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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COVID-19

California Tells COVID-Positive Medical Staff to ‘Return to Work Immediately, Without Isolation or Testing’

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The Los Angeles Times came out with a piece Wednesday titled, “With hospitals reeling, California tells COVID-positive medical workers to stay on the job.” With more and more patients arriving to the emergency room every day, forced to wait entire days to be seen, there is no one to answer the phones and no one to take out the trash.

Due to the Omicron-fueled surge, healthcare workers are calling out sick in droves, and has “left the medical infrastructure on edge.” As a result, California, and other state’s officials are examining a “Sweeping policy change that allows asymptomatic healthcare workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus to return to work immediately, without isolation or testing.”

Currently, the policy will remain in place through February 1st to avoid staffing shortages. The California Department of Public Health said because hospitals are reaching capacity, providing essential care is extremely compromised.

“Given those conditions, the department is providing temporary flexibility to help hospitals and emergency services providers respond to an unprecedented surge and staffing shortages” said the agency.

On Tuesday, nurses and representatives with the SEIU 721 union spoke out against the measure outside the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting in downtown to L.A. The California Nurses Association also said it planning a “day of action” for Thursday to condemn the state’s decision.

“It is absolutely infuriating that Democrats turned our nation upside down, harmed our children and may have even allowed the Democrats to steal an election creating these mandates, only to be forced to throw it all out the window on a whim because they did not work” says Sara Carter

“When President Trump was questioning these things, when I would question these things, when any sane person would question these things, the Democrats tried to make everyone look like they wanted to kill their grandmother and that we were conspiracy theorists” adds Carter.

“Is the situation ideal? No,” said Dr. Robert-Kim Farley, an epidemiologist and infectious-diseases expert at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Is it the lesser of the two evils of having no one to care for patients, versus having staff caring for them that may have COVID? Yes, it’s the lesser of two evils.”

The L.A. Times adds, “Kim-Farley said the policy is a recognition of the significant strain hospitals are experiencing amid an increased number of patients and decreased number of staff. The chances of transmission from an asymptomatic worker are minimal, he said, particularly since he or she would be practicing precautions, including wearing high-grade medical masks.”

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