The Wealthy Are Receiving Priority for Coronavirus Testing


Makenna Hadjiandreou, Staff Writer

Without a doubt, the rich and famous, politicians, celebrities, and social media influencers, serve as a consistent reminder of the economic inequality in America.

The disparity in the distribution of wealth throughout America continues to increase and supply the affluent with privileges denied to the less fortunate. This ever-widening rift between the rich and poor has become even more apparent during the coronavirus pandemic. 

A seemingly untamable virus, COVID-19 sent the world into a global frenzy when it made an appearance towards the end of 2019. After infecting about 1.5 million individuals and claiming the lives of nearly 200,000 worldwide, revelations about the severity of this disease triggered an onslaught of American citizens to receive testing for the coronavirus. In a collective effort to stop the spread of the virus, healthcare professionals urged their fellow human beings to stay home and self-isolate if possible. As many dutiful citizens took it upon themselves to follow the guidelines for the prevention of the virus, multiple celebrities took it upon themselves to receive testing for the diseases, even if they appeared asymptomatic. After being tested, several well-known actors, singers, and influencers dutifully confessed to receiving a positive test for the virus. 

In light of this news, fans from all over the nation rallied their support and sympathy for the beloved celebrities that contracted the virus. A cry of “not Uncle Idris!” emerged on social media after the famed English actor Idris Elba announced his positive test result (Schaffer). However, many individuals were less than thrilled to find out how these celebrities managed to jump the queue for coronavirus testing. According to Business Insider, the U.S recently faced a shortage of testing supplies, leading to it “falling behind every other developed nation in the rate of tests performed per capita” (Rogers). Because of this, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) issued a list of strict requirements for a patient that wished to receive testing (Rogers). Consequently, a portion of celebrities that were tested for the virus bypassed the set requirements by using private labs to expedite the testing. 

Testing has been made available for all American citizens; however, the amount of space and equipment needed for COVID-19 tests to be executed properly is limited. As the wealthy and affluent employ their wealth and status to their advantage, countless ordinary individuals that exhibit symptoms of the coronavirus are forced to endure long periods after being tested. According to AP News, equipment mishaps and the strict government criteria that determine whether or not a citizen qualifies for testing “have led to widespread reports of people struggling to get tested” (Bieschker et al.). Furthermore, those who manage to receive testing report prolonged delays in obtaining the results, which are often due to long backlogs at government-run labs (Bieschker et al.). Often, the sheer number of individuals who arrive daily to undergo testing force healthcare officials to place limits on lab occupancies. A nationwide uproar occurred on March 11th, when 60 percent of Oklahoma’s testing space was given to NBA players and team staff (Rogers). According to Business Insider, the 58 individuals that underwent testing were allowed to “bypass the long waits endured by ordinary citizens waiting for tests” (Rogers). Only one of the 58 tested individuals obtained a positive result; the rest remained asymptomatic. In response to this issue, Diana Zuckerman, the president of the National Center for Health Research in Washington, DC, recognizes that ‘“When something is available but limited… people with more fame and more money are more likely to get it”’ (Rogers). 

Moreover, the expense of COVID-19 testing may be too steep for individuals who no longer work and/or do not maintain a steady income. Celebrities whose earnings far exceed the income of an average American can afford to undergo testing and receive their results at a faster rate. As everyday workers face financial devastation, the wealthy, the politicians, and the influencers remain isolated in luxury. In fact, according to The Guardian, those who can afford to work directly from their homes earn more money than those who put themselves at a greater risk of incurring the coronavirus; i.e, nurses, social care workers, and grocery-store attendants (Schaffer). Thus, individuals who endanger themselves regularly for the sake of society receive a lower salary than the wealthy, who earn enough to remain isolated and out of harm’s way. 

In conclusion, The Guardian compares the coronavirus pandemic to the sinking of the Titanic. As the doomed ship prepared for its descent beneath the waves, women and children were given priority to escape. Likewise, as the world undergoes the spread of COVID-19, the wealthy and the famous are receiving first-hand protection from this deadly disease, leaving thousands of ordinary people worldwide to sink. President Donald Trump remarks that this inequality is simply “the story of life”; nevertheless, it is the hope of many individuals that society can one day break the stereotype and provide everyone with equal opportunities regardless of their economic status.