City leader wants ‘COVID Card’ to prepare for new normal after coronavirus pandemic

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The confining lifestyle that comes with the coronavirus pandemic won’t last forever.

But once the stay home orders are lifted, there could be a few surprises in store.

“I think, for me, I want us to get through this as best we can,” State Sen. Raumesh Akbari said. “Now, what that whole looks like, it might be a little different than what we expect.”

Dr Jeffery Warren, a Memphis City Council member and member of the local COVID-19 Task Force, said he thinks people who have had the virus could have a “COVID Card.

“And those are the ones that we can put back out to work and get them back, you know, waiting our tables without a mask,” Warren said.

It’s a certificate that would prove a person is disease free.

“I personally, if you’re coming in serving me food, you know, I’d like to know that, you know, if you don’t have your mask on, that you’ve had the virus, and you’re good, you could show me that,” Warren said. “I want to know.”

“I think we definitely need to think about something like that, maybe more so a little more high tech, something on our phones, something that they’ve done in China because it can update automatically,” Sen. Akbari said.

“We have a lot of rules like that,” Warren said. “You know, you have a passport to allow you get on a plane to fly the country. You have to apply for that. You have to pass certain criteria, then you get your passport.”

Some states have used border checkpoints in the crisis to identify people who might be infected.

With Tennessee bordering eight other states, Sen. Akbari wouldn’t be opposed to the idea.

“I think so—to stop the spread,” Sen. Akbari said. “I know in Florida, they were specifically stopping people from Louisiana and New York, so I do think that could be a possibility.”

But some are ready to tap the brakes on these ideas.

“We’ll be fighting over here before that happens; that is just absolutely outrageous,” former Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland said. “To me, that’s a violation of all our civil rights. We’re living through some trying times, something that none of us living have probably experienced, but we don’t want our civil liberties to fade away in the middle of this.”

“Obviously, we have privacy concerns,” Sen. Akbari said. “We are not a communist nation. We are a democratic nation—a Republic. So I think that that’s obviously something we’ll have to balance.”

“I don’t think it’s got anything to do with us being a free society as much as it does with us being a smart society and trying to protect each other,” Warren said.

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