Former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang was recently back in the news with a bizarre suggestion about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Is there a way for someone to easily show that they have been vaccinated – like a bar code they can download to their phone?” the New York businessman asked on Twitter.
“There ought to be.”
It should not be surprising that Democrats, for whom the government can never be big or intrusive enough, want to be able to monitor coronavirus patients in such a way.
But perhaps government officials should look at an early attempt at this Soviet-style sorting of the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
In early August the state of Virginia introduced COVIDWISE, a Bluetooth-based smartphone app designed to track virus cases.
The system notified users if someone else with the app who had been within six feet of them for at least 15 minute had tested positive for the virus.
Virginia officials sought to reassure citizens concerned about sharing their data by saying COVIDWISE was voluntary, completely anonymous, including not sharing the identification of the infected person, and did not track a user’s location.
As the Virginia Mercury reported, state officials cited research by Oxford University that determined lockdowns and other drastic measures could be avoided if 60 percent of the population utilized the system. But, officials maintained “use of the app at any level will help lower infection rates,” the paper reported. State Health Department officials said the data indicated “that for every 1.5 users of Virginia’s app, they expect to see one less infection,” the Mercury added.
On Aug. 5, the day Virginia rolled out COVIDWISE, the state reported roughly 95,000 total cases and 2,274 total deaths. As of Dec. 21, Virginia reported 311,000 cases and 4,654 deaths.
Meanwhile, about 906,000 Virginians – or 14.7 percent of the state’s adult population – had downloaded COVIDWISE.
So, based on the numbers, after COVIDWISE was introduced, cases tripled, and deaths doubled.
Although state officials maintained the app would prevent infections and save lives no matter how many people used it, liberals might argue that COVIDWISE is not working as billed because Virginia did not reach the 60 percent threshold.
Yet Virginia is not the only example.
Time magazine reported in mid-November that nine other states had turned to similar technology – Virginia led the pack in downloads. Other than Delaware, the other eight had reached 4.5 percent of their respective populations or less.
And this resistance wasn’t from red-state yokels. Joe Biden carried seven of the 10 states on Time’s list.
Two things are clear from this effort in Virginia and elsewhere.
First, Floridians, once again, should be grateful the 2018 gubernatorial election turned out as it did.
Secondly, many Americans seem more wary of Big Tech and their leaders than they are of the virus – which should give us pause when people like Andrew Yang talk about “1984”-style methods of following the virus.
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