By Paul Hughes Republican-American
WEST HARTFORD — Connecticut is now testing out a cellphone app for state residents to verify their COVID-19 vaccination status, Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday.
The state Department of Public Health on Monday started making the “SMART Health Card” available through the secure online CT WIZ Public Portal ahead of the official launch next week. State residents also are able to request a copy of vaccination records to be mailed or faxed to them.
“When you roll it out, you want to get it right,” Lamont said during a news conference at a CVS pharmacy in West Hartford. “We’re taking privacy very seriously. That’s part of what this process is about. I think we’ll be ready to go in a week or so, but it depends on the final test.”
The SMART Health Card is a digital vaccination record with a QR code that can be scanned of a person’s COVID-19 vaccination history from a state database.Mobile vaccination app being tested by state
Lamont continued to insist it will be up to businesses, restaurants and other establishments to decide whether to request patrons provide proof of vaccination. He also stressed that requesting a QR code is voluntary.
“I’m doing this so we don’t need mandates,” Lamont said. “I’m doing this to make sure stores like this (CVS) and restaurants around the state have the tools they can to keep their customers safe, and to keep their employees safe.”
The Democratic governor brushed aside Republican calls for a legislative hearing before the state moves forward with its digital health card system, saying lawmakers can do that in February when the General Assembly convenes again, but he is not inclined to wait until then.
House Minority Leader Vincent J. Candelora, R-North Branford, called for a legislative hearing Tuesday, and proposed that Lamont appear before legislators to explain the initiative and answer questions.
On Wednesday, Rep. Jay M. Case, R-Winsted, urged the Lamont administration to hold off until lawmakers, businesses and the public have an opportunity to weigh in.
“We don’t know how the program will be policed,” Case said. “The governor claims it’s not mandatory, but we have seen how the life span of his ‘opt-in’ policies have gone throughout the pandemic.”
State health officials Wednesday reported 1,723 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 452,038 since the first infections were recorded in early March 2020. The positive test rate was nearly 7.2% based on 24,082 newly reported test results.
There was a net increase of 35 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 for a total of 716 statewide. State health officials reported 537 of those patients were not fully vaccinated.