New Hampshire state Sen. Chuck Morse (R-Salem) supports the message that Granite Staters should get the COVID-19 vaccine. But he’s slamming the door on President Joe Biden’s proposal to confront people in their homes over their vaccination status.
“We need to go community-by-community, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and oft-times door-to-door, literally knocking on doors” to get people vaccinated, Biden said on Tuesday.
Later that day, the White House released a statement confirming “targeted, community-by-community, door-to-door outreach to get remaining Americans vaccinated” is part of its strategy, “by ensuring they have the information they need on how both safe and accessible the vaccine is.”
Morse, who is president of the New Hampshire state Senate, is having none of it.
“Last week, the Biden administration suggested they may begin a door-to-door campaign targeting Americans who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19,” Morse posted on his Facebook page. “While I agree that we should encourage everyone that wants to be vaccinated to get vaccinated, this type of invasion of our privacy is not acceptable. We all have a right to keep our medical histories private, and this feels like an intimidation tactic that the government should not be getting involved in.”
About 74 percent of Granite State adults have gotten at least one shot, the 13th-highest rate in the U.S. — but the lowest in New England.
Biden’s proposal has met with widespread opposition as elected officials across the country express the same concerns about privacy Morse laid out. The Biden administration is pushing back.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told CNN “It is absolutely the government’s business” [emphasis in original] whether private citizens have agreed to get the vaccine. It is the taxpayers’ business if we have to continue to spend money to try to keep people from contracting COVID and helping reopen the economy.”
When South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced his intention to stop any federal door-to-door initiative, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki accused opponents of Biden’s proposal of “literally killing people.”
During Friday’s presser Psaki said, “The failure to provide accurate public health information, including the efficacy of vaccines and the accessibility of them to people across the country, including South Carolina, is literally killing people, so maybe they should consider that.”
In “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire, none of the four Democrats in the state’s federal delegation have expressed opposition to the Biden plan. Nor did they respond to requests for comment from NHJournal.
Gov. Chris Sununu, who is considering a run against Sen. Maggie Hassan next year, hasn’t made a public comment about the specific door-to-door approach either. Still, he has repeatedly expressed his reluctance to use the government to pressure people into getting vaccinated. During a podcast interview with NHJournal on Wednesday, for example, he repeated his opposition to states giving incentives to people for getting vaccinated.
“I’ve always said incentivizing people with cash to make a medical decision for themselves, it just doesn’t sit well with me,” Sununu said, while also noting, “the fact that the ‘Live Free or Die’ state is still number 13 in the country [for vaccination rates] is actually pretty awesome.”
If Sununu does run for U.S. Senate, Morse — who is vaccinated — is widely believed to be considering a run for governor.
“It’s very smart of Morse to get the jump on the issue over other Republicans,” says veteran GOP strategist Mike Dennehy. “Our fiercely independent Granite Staters will not take kindly to getting questioned about their vaccination status.”
Morse has spoken out previously on issues of privacy and vaccines, including his adamant opposition to any so-called ‘vaccination passport’ policies.
“I want to make it clear that I will not support the creation of any ‘vaccine passport’ in New Hampshire that would limit the ability of New Hampshire residents to travel, work or enter businesses based on vaccination status,” Morse told NHJournal at the time.
Meanwhile, some opponents of the Biden approach are taking their concerns even further. “The Biden administration wants to knock on your door to see if you’re vaccinated,” tweeted Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan. “What’s next? Knocking on your door to see if you own a gun?”