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'Vaccine passport' debate could fuel GOP hesitancy, Baylor wins NCAA and can-cel culture in Georgia

Meet the "vaccine fairies" who use their magic to help people secure vaccination appointments.
Image: Baylor v Gonzaga
The Baylor Bears celebrate defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on Monday night.Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

This morning we are looking at why the backlash to "vaccine passports" matters, the new NCAA champs and the latest in the GOP battle against some corporate and cultural giants.

Here's what we're watching this Tuesday.

'Vaccine passports' are a hot-button issue for the GOP. Some experts worry it may fuel hesitancy.

Image: Natalie Ruiz
Lynne Sladky / AP

Growing conservative backlash to the idea of "vaccine passports" —proposed by some private-sector industries to promote a safer environment as states begin to ease coronavirus restrictions — could make Republicans even less likely to get their shots, experts warned.

The notion has come under intense scrutiny on Fox News and among conservative politicos and pundits for more than a week.

Conservatives have criticized the so-called passports in the same way they attacked earlier government restrictions, like lockdowns and mask mandates, as potential government overreach and a violation of patient privacy — a point the American Civil Liberties Union has echoed.

But public health experts fear the debate could jeopardize the larger goal of the U.S. ultimately achieving herd immunity, which scientists estimate will be reached when 70 percent to 85 percent of the population has Covid-19 antibodies.

"The idea of a vaccine passport has become politicized quickly, making it a wedge separating people rather than a bridge to our goal of increasing vaccination," said epidemiologist Brian Castrucci.

Tuesday's top stories

Image: Baylor v Gonzaga
Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images

Baylor stuns Gonzaga in blowout, wins its first men's NCAA championship

Baylor University, just a generation removed from one of the most disturbing scandals in college basketball history, captured the sport's ultimate prize Monday night. The Bears beat Gonzaga, 86-70, in the Division I title game keeping the Bulldogs one agonizing victory short of a perfect season. "We play with a culture of joy," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "They fed off of each other." By David K. Li | Read more

Can-cel culture: GOP lawmakers in Georgia kicking Coke to the curb over voting law criticism

Coca-Cola was among the companies former President Donald Trump called to boycott after the company's CEO criticized Georgia's controversial new voting law. But a photo of the renowned Diet Coke aficionado tweeted Monday appeared to show a Coke bottle near a phone on his desk. Meantime, Denver will reportedly host Major League Baseball's All-Star Game this summer following its removal from Atlanta in protest of the new law. By Dareh Gregorian | Read more

Derek Chauvin 'absolutely' violated policy, Minneapolis police chief testifies

By Janelle Griffith | Read more

In a rare instance of a police chief testifying against an officer, Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo rebuked Derek Chauvin from the witness stand Monday for his behavior during George Floyd's arrest. "Clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue apply that level of force to a person," Arradondo testified, "that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or values." By Janelle Griffith | Read more

OPINION: Hunter Biden's book pairs a heart-wrenching tale of grief with a trite addict's diary

There are three things you should know about this crackocalyptic memoir: first, there are moments of great beauty and tenderness; second, that it is an interesting keyhole into the president’s family life; and third, you may not want to ask Hunter Biden for advice on how to get sober. By Beau Friedlander | Read more

Amazon is snapping up disused shopping malls and turning them into fulfillment centers

Across the country, malls that buckled due to e-commerce or suffered during the pandemic are being given new life by the very entity that precipitated their decline. By Leticia Miranda | Read more

BETTER: Stressed out? Here's how to feel better in 5 minutes

Need a break? Use these tips to press pause on the news cycle, the work from home grind and your never ending to-do list. By Marguerite Ward | Read more

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One kind thing

Image: Sam Mueller, a budding playwright says she has booked "in the ballpark" of 80 vaccination appointments so far.
Courtesy Sam Mueller

Once upon a time, when the Covid-19 vaccines first started being distributed, the states and drug store chains set up websites to book appointments that were so glitchy and so maddeningly hard to use that many people were plunged into despair.

Then, like magic, the "vaccine fairies" appeared.

Meet some of the people who have worked their magic to help dozens of vulnerable people secure the one thing they need most these days: A vaccination appointment.

Read the full story here.

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Thanks, Petra