Washington: Celebrities, politicians and professional athletes faced a backlash this week as many revealed that they had been tested for the coronavirus, even when they didn’t have a fever or other tell-tale symptoms.
That’s fueling a perception that the wealthy and famous have been able to jump to the head of the line to get tested while others have been turned away or met with long delays.
The concerns over preferential treatment underscores a fundamental truth about inequalities baked into the American health care system, those with the financial means can often receive a different level of service.
Asked about the issue on wednesday, President Donald Trump said the well-to-do and well-connected shouldn’t get priority for coronavirus tests. But the wealthy former reality star conceded that the rich and famous sometimes get perks.
“Perhaps that’s been the story of life,” Trump said during a briefing at the White House. “That does happen on occasion. And I’ve noticed where some people have been tested fairly quickly.”
On Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nets professional basketball team announced the entire team was tested last week upon returning from San Francisco after a game against the Golden State Warriors.
The team found a private lab to do the work, and on Tuesday announced that four of its players were positive for the virus, including perennial All-Star Kevin Durant.
Even though public health resources were not used, it raised the ire of many including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who turned to Twitter to voice his objections.
Public frustrations over the difficulties getting tested for the new virus have been building since the first U.S. case was confirmed Jan. 20. Early missteps with test kits developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coupled with strict government criteria about who qualified for screening, have led to widespread reports of people struggling to get tested.
Even those who manage to get successfully swabbed often report long delays in getting the results back amid lengthy backlogs at government-run labs.
Seeking to break the logjam, the federal Food and Drug Administration announced earlier this month it would allow major private diagnostic lab companies to begin rolling out new COVID-19 tests and relaxed regulations typically required before new tests can be brought to market....