Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of Excelsior Pass Plus to Support the Safe, Secure Return of Tourism and Business Travel
New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the launch of Excelsior Pass Plus to expand travel and commerce opportunities for New Yorkers by enabling compatibility between New York State’s Excelsior Pass platform, which has generated 3 million passes and provides digital proof of vaccination or negative test result, and the highly secure, globally recognized SMART Health Cards Framework developed by an international consortium called VCI. This includes a first-in-the-nation partnership with VeriFLY by Daon, through which Excelsior Pass Plus users can securely upload their verified COVID-19 vaccination credentials to VeriFLY, and travel through American Airlines to Greece, France, Spain, Italy, and the Bahamas, and on indirect flights to El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, and Puerto Rico. The list will continue to grow as partnerships facilitating access to more countries are in development.
New Yorkers will be able to display their Excelsior Pass Plus at hundreds of businesses and locations that require proof of vaccination, as well as when traveling to entities where SMART Health Cards are accepted. Excelsior Pass Plus, a result of the strategic partnership between New York State and VCI, will provide New Yorkers safe access to retrieve a secure, digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccination record using the SMART Health Cards Framework – making their interstate and international travel and commerce experiences safer, contact-less, and more seamless.
“Excelsior Pass has enabled New Yorkers to get back to the people and things they love, helping drive our economic recovery in the process” Governor Cuomo said. “Excelsior Pass Plus will advance this even further, and is part of our broad commitment to securely take our vaccination verification efforts to the next level. From Day 1, we have said that the question of ‘public health or the economy’ is a false choice – it is and must always be both, and as we continue to follow the science to remain ahead of the pandemic, we will continue to innovate our tools to ensure that New Yorkers and New York businesses thrive.”
Building off the State’s successful Excelsior Pass solution, Excelsior Pass Plusexpands its usage, supporting the safe and secure return of tourism and business travel — major economic drivers for the State — and providing a Pass option that holds the same level of information and validity as a CDC Vaccination Card, with greater security than a physical card which can be misplaced or stolen, and verified by the State of New York.
Excelsior Pass Plus was developed in partnership with VCI, a voluntary coalition of 570 public and private organizations—including The Mayo Clinic, MITRE, Boston Children’s Hospital, Microsoft, and The Commons Project Foundation—that lead the development and implementation of the open-source SMART Health Cards Framework and specifications, which are already in use in states such as California, Louisiana, and Hawaii. Using two-factor authentication security, Excelsior Pass Plus expands on the State’s commitment to empower individuals with access to a free, trustworthy, privacy-preserving, and verifiable copy of their own vaccination records in paper or digital form, and supports the harmonization of standards needed for the issuance of verifiable health credentials worldwide – signed clinical data bound to an individual identity. Currently, more than 50 countries globally are allowing U.S. travelers entry with proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Rick Cotton, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said: “Governor Cuomo’s announcement of a first-of-its-kind partnership between New York State and VeriFLY that will allow travelers to use Excelsior Pass Plus for overseas flights is a critical step in rebuilding tourism and business travel, two linchpins of our regional economy. The launch of Excelsior Pass Plus and the partnership with VeriFLY enhances the multitude of efforts by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey throughout the pandemic to give travelers confidence in the safety and security of air travel.”
JP Pollak, co-founder of The Commons Project, senior researcher at Cornell Tech, and a co-leader of VCI, said: “The adoption of SMART Health Cards and open standards in Excelsior Pass Plus is a tremendous step forward in the availability of trustworthy health information for all people,” said JP Pollak, co-founder of The Commons Project, senior researcher at Cornell Tech, and a co-leader of VCI. “And as a New Yorker, I’m grateful to be able to demonstrate my health status reliably wherever I go, without sacrificing my privacy. This is one more critical step towards the safe reopening and recovery of our fair state.”
Excelsior Pass, launched by Governor Cuomo in March, was the first-of-its-kind to be available in the U.S., providing a free, fast, and secure way to present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results to fast-track the State’s reopening, including for hard-hit industries like food services, entertainment, and hospitality. Major tourist destinations and event venues including Broadway theaters, Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park, and the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center have recently announced using Excelsior Pass for proof of entry following successful adoption across many of New York’s largest stadiums including Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, and Yankee Stadium. Additionally, Marriott International will be making Excelsior Pass solutions available to meeting planners hosting events at its more than 200 New York properties.
Excelsior Pass Plus follows the Governor’s July 28 announcement that all State workers—approximately 130,000—will be required to get vaccinated or be tested on a weekly basis. All patient-facing health care workers at state-run hospitals will be required to get vaccinated. Both Excelsior Pass and Pass Plus will be accepted as forms of proof. Over 75.7% of New York adults have received at least one vaccine dose, and more than 68.8% of adults are fully vaccinated (CDC) – and Excelsior Pass solutions will support reopening shared spaces, such as offices, while protecting the public health of those returning to these settings.
Interested New Yorkers can learn more about Excelsior Pass Plus—including how to retrieve a Pass through the NYS Excelsior Wallet app—by visiting epass.ny.gov.
Facts About Excelsior Pass Plus
- Excelsior Pass Plus is a secure, digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record and users’ data is kept confidential and secure.
- Excelsior Pass Plus provides safe access to vaccination information, and includes vaccine type, site, and date of vaccination, just like your paper CDC Vaccination Card for a verifiable record of your COVID-19 vaccination history at your fingertips.
- Excelsior Pass Plus is built using the SMART Health Cards Framework and open, interoperable standards for New Yorkers to have safe, secure usage where SMART Health Cards are accepted.
- Excelsior Pass Plus is available to be retrieved for those who have received their COVID-19 vaccine in New York State or New York State residents who have provided their vaccination information to their New York State healthcare provider to enter into the secure New York State and New York City immunization databases.
- Excelsior Pass Plus contains cryptographic signatures to prove to verifiers that it is a genuine credential issued by New York State and has not been tampered with or altered.
- Just like Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus can be accessed via the Excelsior Pass Web Portal or through the free NYS Wallet App, but requires a valid phone number or email for 2-factor authentication.
- Excelsior Pass is accompanied by a Help Desk with extensive resources and is able to be printed for those who may not own smartphones.
- Currently available in English, additional languages will be rolled out in in mid-August.
- The Excelsior Scanner App will be updated in mid-August to accept all Excelsior Pass types, including Excelsior Pass Plus.
- Individuals can retrieve and hold as many Passes as they may be eligible for, including the Excelsior Vaccination Pass, Antigen Pass, PCR Pass, and/or now, their Excelsior Pass Plus, and can visit epass.ny.gov to get started.
- Just like Excelsior Pass, you choose when, if, and how to present your Excelsior Pass Plus – you can think of presenting your Excelsior Pass Plus as sharing your CDC Vaccination Card. Individuals always have the option of using alternate forms of proof, such as their paper CDC Vaccination Card.
Tom Grissen, CEO at Daon, said: “We feel privileged at Daon to be part of the team in New York State that is helping people resume the experiences we all love — whether it’s catching a flight for a much-needed family vacation or attending a show or concert. More than a million people around the world have already trusted VeriFLYon their life journeys and we look forward to assisting New Yorkers on theirs.”
Dr. Brian Anderson, chief digital health physician at MITRE and a co-leader of VCI, said: “The State of New York shares VCI’s vision of empowering individuals with convenient and secure mobile access to their own health records to support safer workplaces, business, schools, and tourism throughout the Empire State. We’re pleased New York has embraced the SMART Health Card Framework as they continue to innovate and support residents and visitors to tell their own health story locally and across the world.”
Dr. John Halamka, president of Mayo Clinic Platform and a co-leader of VCI, said: “Over the last 40 years we’ve learned about the power of standards. We are very pleased that the collaboration will help create an environment where New Yorkers and the business can enjoy travel and get back to work safely.”
Dr. Josh Mandel, chief architect at Microsoft and a co-leader of VCI, said: “The SMART Health Cards Framework underscores VCI’s commitment to trust and transparency. Built on free and open standards, this framework provides a secure way to request, save, and share health information. We are proud to contribute to New York State’s efforts to secure their residents’ well-being and foster a safe reopening.”
Tammy Routh, Senior Vice President, Global Sales Organization, Marriott International, said: “As part of Marriott’s Connect with Confidence initiative, which provides innovative meeting solutions and optional health protocols to meeting professionals, we are excited to make New York State’s secure Excelsior Pass solutions available to our meeting planner customers.”