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Maryland to Start Apple’s Electronic Credentials Program

By A.R. CABRAL
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 14, 2021)—Marylanders traveling on an airplane may soon be able to leave their plastic state identification behind for a digital card from Apple Wallet.

Other states introducing the digital identification program through Apple Inc. include Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Utah, according to an Apple Sept. 1 press release.

The digital ID feature will only be available on Apple devices, specifically using the tech company’s Wallet application.

In 2019, Chairman Kumar P. Barve, of the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee, sponsored HB180, which would authorize the Motor Vehicle Administration to use electronic credentials in addition to a physical driver’s license.

Barve, D-Montgomery, confirmed that Maryland’s inclusion in Apple’s digital identification pilot program is a direct result of HB180’s passage in 2019, according to an email from the chairman.

Under the new law, the electronic credential is permitted to display two types of profiles: a limited profile that would only display age, a photo of the subject and “color-coded age indicator”, and a full profile, which includes more specific identification information, according to the bill.

HB180, in the 2019 legislative session, was passed unanimously in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly and Gov. Larry Hogan, R, approved the bill in April 2019.

“Maryland is proud to be a leader once again in safe innovation with the implementation of mobile driver’s licenses,” Hogan said in the Apple Sept. 1 press release.

“As we look to the future, we are committed to enhancing convenience and accessibility while maintaining the highest safety and security standards for our state and citizens,” the governor said.

The Transportation Security Administration will announce when the electronic credential will be implemented in the near future as a phased-in approach continues, according to TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein.

 

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Broad Coalition Launches Effort to Help Resettle Afghan Refugees; Hogan Urges Aid

By SHAUNEEN MIRANDA
Capital News Service

WASHINGTON (Sept. 14, 2021)—A widespread coalition of political, religious and business leaders, joined by numerous large companies and advocacy organizations, on Tuesday launched an effort to help Afghan evacuees resettle in the United States.

The new group, called Welcome.US, seeks to engage the American public in welcoming Afghan refugees in a multifaceted effort, Cecelia Muñoz, the initiative’s co-founder, said at a virtual press conference. The former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Barack Obama, she is senior adviser to New America, a public policy group.

The initiative will try to make it easier for Americans to donate to frontline organizations and sponsor Afghan families arriving in the United States.

“Welcome.US is being launched in response to this outpouring from the American people to channel and fan its flames, building on the extraordinary work so many tireless frontline organizations have been leading,” co-founder John Bridgeland said. He was director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President George W. Bush. He is president and CEO of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm.

Afghan-American organizations, faith-based groups, resettlement agencies, businesses, veterans, nonprofits, universities and political leaders have joined the initiative.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also expressed his support for Welcome.US, urging Marylanders to help Afghan evacuees resettling in this country through donating money to frontline organizations, hosting families or providing essential services.

“When America began its withdrawal from Afghanistan, I made it clear that Maryland was ready and willing to welcome these Afghan allies,” Hogan said at the press conference.

Hogan also spoke of America’s history of compassion and commitment to helping others.

“Today, we’re calling on that spirit of compassion yet again,” Hogan said. “The thousands of Afghan allies, who desperately need our help now, have been our strong allies for the past two decades.”

Welcome.US’s co-chairs include Obama, Bush and former President Bill Clinton, as well as former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton.

“Many of the refugees fleeing Afghanistan stood by America and risked everything for a chance at a better life,” Obama tweeted. “With the launch of Welcome.US, we can support our new Afghan neighbors and reaffirm our common humanity. I hope you’ll join us.”

Welcome.US’s launch comes during a pivotal moment in Afghan-American relations. The withdrawal of American troops and the Taliban’s control in Afghanistan left hundreds of thousands of Afghan allies struggling to escape and find new places to call home.

The initiative also begins shortly after the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“But this call to action transcends the toxic politics of the moment, and I ask all Marylanders—and all Americans—to help us prove once again why this nation truly is ‘the last best hope of earth,’” Hogan said.

Potential congressional legislation aimed at helping Afghan evacuees could affect the impact of Welcome.US.

“Congress has some serious work to do to make this success possible,” said Nazanin Ash, the International Rescue Committee’s vice president of global policy and advocacy.

Ash pointed to the Biden administration’s request for funding and authority on extending refugee benefits to Afghan evacuees and providing them a path to permanent legal residency in the United States.

“Without this assistance, Afghan evacuees will not be able to access healthcare, language services or secure other public and private benefits that will help them find their footing and get a leg up in their new country,” Ash said.

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Hospice of the Chesapeake Announces Requirement for Workforce to be Covid-19 Vaccinated

By ELYZABETH MARCUSSEN
Hospice of the Chesapeake

PASADENA, Md. (Sept 14, 2021)— Today, Hospice of the Chesapeake announced that 98.33 percent of its employees are vaccinated for COVID-19. The not-for-profit community-based healthcare company providing care in Anne Arundel, Charles and Prince George’s began implementing its vaccine policy in July.

“Requiring COVID-19 vaccinations is the right thing to do for our patients, their families, our care team members, their families, our volunteers and our healthcare business partners. We take our role in the health of this community very seriously and this decision is in keeping with our corporate values of courage and service to others. We are honored to stand in solidarity with our local hospitals and care facilities in this endeavor as we have for the last 15 months.” said Michael Brady, President and CEO.

In July, Hospice of the Chesapeake announced to its workforce a Sept. 1 deadline for unvaccinated employees, including those who work remotely today or in the future, to become fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or apply for a medical or religious exemption. This requirement extended to all employees, contractors, interns, visiting students and volunteers. On Sept. 1, the organization reported that 98.33 percent of employees were vaccinated, with only a small group of granted exceptions for legitimate medical and religious purposes. Equally important, the organization requires daily screening for symptoms and possible travel exposure even for vaccinated employees.

“We view this decision as a logical extension of our ongoing role as thought leaders in the regional healthcare community” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric Bush. Bush added, “Every organization and community member has an important part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Strong vaccination rates have allowed us to feel more hopeful, but the impact of newly emerging variants remain a real threat. Vaccination is the best resource we have to safeguard everyone and focus on eradicating COVID-19.”

Hospice of the Chesapeake’s leadership team believes strongly in their role as providers of care for those living with advanced illness and experiencing end of life and is committed to continuing to allow access for patients and their families for those critically important end-of-life visits and conversations. “We will do everything in our power to ensure families can visit with their loved ones in a safe and healthy environment when and where it’s right for them.” said Bush.

In addition to employee daily screening, the organization also screens all patients, family members and visitors to inpatient care centers and offices for COVID-19 symptoms prior to arrival and requires the appropriate use of personal protective equipment based on unique situation. As well, the organization offers COVID-19 vaccines and testing for its employees, volunteers, and patients.

The community nonprofit encourages other employers, community leaders, and business partners to set an example that reflects our shared responsibility to protect our communities’ health by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

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