App to Help Businesses and Entertainment Venues Reopen in NY

New York has released an app that will make it easy for residents to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test or vaccination to help get the state back to business.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday 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. 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.

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. 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,” Governor 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.

Steve LaFleche, General Manager, IBM Public and Federal Markets, said, “IBM is proud to support the State of New York with its efforts to apply innovative technologies to help residents and communities respond to COVID-19. In choosing a flexible and accessible tool that places security and privacy at its core, the state is modeling for the rest of the country how new, technology-enabled approaches can help safely reinvigorate economies while also striving to protect public health.”

Excelsior Pass is built on IBM’s Digital Health Pass solution and is designed to enable the secure verification of health credentials such as test results and vaccination records without the need to share underlying medical and personal information. The technology is flexible and built to scale, allowing other states to join and help foster a safer, trusted transition to a post-pandemic reality. The pass can also be printed and is complementary to other types of proof that patrons can use, reducing any barriers to usage.

A special emphasis has been placed on the protection of an individual’s privacy. Secure technologies, like blockchain and encryption, are woven throughout Excelsior Pass to help protect the data, making it verifiable and trusted. No private health data is stored or tracked within the apps. Excelsior Pass can be used to voluntarily show a QR code as proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test result via a digital smartphone wallet or printed credential without sharing underlying personal health details.

Multiple security systems are in place to ensure the integrity of personal health information. Excelsior Pass was designed with equity and equal access at the forefront. With multi-language access, a robust Help Desk, and multiple ways to use Excelsior Pass — whether you have a smartphone or not — New York is committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers can participate in the safe, convenient and responsible reopening of our economy.

The following set of labs have committed to rapid reporting of COVID test results to the State Department of Health’s Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS), which will help ensure that Excelsior Pass users can receive their testing results in the required window of time before an event: Acutis Diagnostics, Aegis Sciences Corporation, BioReference Laboratories, Boston Heart Diagnostics, Broad Institute, Cayuga Medical Center, Clarity Lab Solutions, Lenco Diagnostic Laboratories, The Mount Sinai Hospital’s Center for Clinical Laboratories, Northwell Health, Quest Diagnostics, Rapid Reliable Testing and UR Medicine Labs. The State continues to work with other labs and rapid testing sites to expand this list of partners and expedite reporting, so users have timely, accurate results to participate in congregate economic and social activities. 

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