The mayor of Baltimore is considering creating a regional ‘vaccine passport’ that would require people to show proof they’d been inoculated against COVID-19 in order to enter places like gyms or arenas. But his proposal–which he pitched to leaders of seven other counties that make up the heavily populated area between his city and Washington, D.C., might never see the light of day.
The Baltimore Sun reports that Mayor Brandon Scott likes the idea of requiring proof of vaccination only if it can be done in a way that protects the heavily Black population of Charm City from falling on the wrong side of a divide over access to vaccination and other services. Baltimore City’s population declined by more than 5% over the last decade, but unlike its neighbor D.C., its population remains majority Black at 62.4 percent.
Scott says he’s concerned because vaccination rates are lower among African-Americans than whites and many Black communities also lack access to healthcare.
From the Baltimore Sun
“We know that inequity is there. There are already pre-existing inequities in the city,” he said. “I don’t want this to be a thing where we’re blocking our Black people from access to things. That’s a big, big thing for me. … How can they show me how that won’t be the case?”
Scott said a regional approach to a passport policy would be beneficial. People move between the city and surrounding counties on a daily basis, and a consistent policy would help with enforcement, he said. But it’s not a deal-breaker if other jurisdictions don’t sign on.
“I’m not afraid to go it alone,” he said. “In a perfect world, do I think that will be something we see with other folks? Yes. But throughout COVID, I’ve proven that I’m not afraid to go alone, or to go it alone with Marc [Elrich of Montgomery County] and Angela [Alsobrooks of Prince George’s County.]”
Several other cities, the Sun story notes, already have their own vaccine proof requirements in place. D.C. is among them.