The owner of a California bar was arrested on suspicion of selling made-to-order fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to several undercover state agents for $20 each in what officials said Friday is the first such foiled operation they are aware of nationwide.
The plainclothes agents from California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control were told to write their names and birthdates on Post-it notes. They say bar employees cut the cards, filled out the identifying information and bogus vaccination dates, then laminated the finished product.
Vaccination cards are being used in some places as a pass for people to attend large gatherings. The European Union is considering allowing in tourists who can prove they have been vaccinated.
Acting on an an anonymous tip from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office, four undercover agents went to Old Corner Saloon in the town of Clements several times in April and bought four fake laminated vaccination cards, officials said.
They returned to the small-town bar this week and arrested the bar’s owner. Agents say they found another two completed cards and 30 additional blank cards along with a laminator and cutting device.
In other developments:
- European leaders are voicing increasing skepticism that a U.S. proposal to lift patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines would solve the problem of getting shots into the arms of people in poorer countries, with some instead calling for more exports of the doses already being produced.
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced growing pressure Friday to impose a strict nationwide lockdown, despite the economic pain it will exact, as a startling surge in coronavirus cases that has pummeled the country's health system shows no signs of abating.
- New York City is still using refrigerated trucks to store bodies of coronavirus victims, more than a year after they were first set up as temporary morgues as deaths surged at the height of the pandemic.
- Britain announced a “first tentative step” toward resuming international travel, saying U.K. citizens will be able to travel to countries including Portugal, Iceland and Israel later this month without having to quarantine upon their return.
- The World Health Organization gave emergency use authorization Friday to a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China's Sinopharm, potentially paving the way for millions of the doses to reach needy countries through a U.N.-backed program rolling out coronavirus vaccines.