The Latest: Governor bans vaccine passports for Montana

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FILE - In this undated photo, provided by NY Governor's Press Office on Saturday March 27, 2021, is the new "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Vaccine passports being developed to verify COVID-19 immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine have become the latest flash point in Americas perpetual political wars, with Republicans portraying them as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices. (NY Governor's Press Office via AP, File)

HELENA, Mont. — Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has issued an executive order banning the development or use of vaccine passports in Montana.

Vaccine passports are documents that could be used to verify coronavirus immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine.

The move by Gianforte on Tuesday comes as vaccine passports have drawn criticism as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices. Gianforte says in a statement that he encourages all Montana residents to get vaccinated but that it is “entirely voluntary.”

Vaccine passports have been implemented in New York but the White House has said there will not be any federal vaccine passport program.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

VACCINES: More than 122.2 million people, or 36.8% of the U.S. population, have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 75.3 million people, or 22.7% of the population, have completed their vaccination.

CASES: The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks 65,785.4 on March 29 to 68,959.6 on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.