Let the government-pressed coronavirus-tied blood collections of citizens begin.
And begin they have.
They have in Georgia at least, where the state’s Department of Public Health recently announced, in cooperation with both Fulton County and Dekalb counties’ Boards of Health, that “to learn more about the spread of COVID-19,” an “investigation” has commenced — and it’s an “investigation” that’s leading government officials to make random stops at randomly selected residences and ask random citizens for, get this, their blood.
Citizens’ DNA in the hands of unelected government officials. Hmm, what could go wrong there?
Specifically, Georgia’s health wonks want to know “the percentage of people in the community who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19,” a statement on the state’s Department of Public Health webpage reads.
And to get that data, the government needs citizens’ blood. Dontcha know.
Oh, it’s completely voluntary.
It’s completely up to the good citizens of Georgia to decide whether or not to turn over their blood to the government.
Georgia’s DPH makes that clear in its statement.
In fact, the whole announcement sounds rather tame and sound and sensible and “help they neighbor” and so forth and so on. Cue State Farm music — with a twist: “Like a good neighbor, the government is here.” Right?
We all want to do our part for the good of society, after all.
“Teams will be visiting randomly selected homes in Fulton and Dekalb counties to ask residents questions about their health and to collect blood samples for an antibody test,” the release states. “Antibodies are proteins the body makes in response to infection. The antibody test can tell us whether a person might have had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. The antibody test is not meant to diagnose whether a person has COVID-19 now.”
But one has to wonder when the government comes a’ knocking — will the “voluntary” aspects of the blood collection be clearly emphasized?
Even the children are being asked to donate.
“All members of the households selected will be asked to participate, including children,” the announcement continues. “Participation is voluntary and you can ask investigation teams any questions you have before agreeing to participate.”
Like: Where’s my blood going?
Like: What happens if you learn I have COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus?
Like: What happens to my blood after you test it?
Like: Who is going to have access to my children’s blood?
Good questions, all.
Here’s another: Are you crazy?
Government officials could just as easily put out a notification in the mailbox, or online, or via social media, or over the television and radio airwaves, asking for citizen volunteers to come down to the local health department clinics and donate blood for the purposes of tracking COVID-19 — for the purposes of helping the “investigation” into the spread of the virus.
Seeking volunteers through those methods puts the control in the hands of the citizens; those ways make clear the blood offerings are completely voluntary.
But government going door-to-door is a different matter.
That’s a different level of pressure.
That’s a different situation that puts the government in control — that sends a maybe subtle, maybe not so subtle message: Comply, or face consequences. What consequences? Well, the unknown for one. The unknown of telling government no — and then not really knowing how government is going to react to that no. Or not knowing how neighbors might perceive that no.
If government really wanted volunteers, government would post a flyer. Or send a letter.
The fact that government is knocking on doors means government, yes, wants “volunteers” — but also that government really, Really, REALLY wants everybody to, ahem, “volunteer.”
See the difference?
Former President Ronald Reagan said it best: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ “
This is that — chilling, on steroids.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.