Want to Get Tested for Coronavirus? You Might Need a Few Million Followers

Kris Jenner was tested for coronavirus, a source told Entertainment Tonight. She had reportedly been exposed to a person at a birthday party who was later diagnosed with COVID-19. (Jenner tested negative.) “Jenner wanted to make sure she was being proactive in getting tested,” the source said.

The same week, also in Los Angeles, a man who performed CPR on his wife as she died after contracting coronavirus was told he did not meet criteria to be tested for the virus, the Los Angeles Times reported. Doctors told him that he wouldn’t be tested unless he showed certain symptoms of the virus.

The man’s daughter told the paper that the hospital said test kits were available in limited quantities, and that, though he was running a low fever, her father could only be tested if he were “hospitalized in critical condition.”

Meanwhile, four players on the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets tested positive for COVID-19, even though, reportedly, only one was showing symptoms.

A journalist for the New York Times wrote that it took him five days to get a coronavirus test in New York, despite running a fever of over 100 degrees.

Two days earlier, actor Idris Elba said he received testing for Coronavirus and was confirmed to have COVID-19. “I have no symptoms so far,” he shared. He had already been taking extra precautions, he wrote, since he was exposed to someone who had the virus.

The current moment in America feels like a cross between the premise of a Marvel movie and a really high production value Bernie Sanders ad: A state of emergency has been declared in the United States in the face of a deadly pandemic that no scientist fully understands. Testing is one of the only available tools. The rich and powerful seem to have access to the test that everyday people do not. Hospitals may soon be overwhelmed.

Americans have always valued money, connections, and clout. But right now, it seems like they could be the difference between, if not life and death, then between feeling secure and feeling terrified.

Coronavirus tests are scarce in the United States due to, according to reports, a series of breakdowns in the public health sector—too much bureaucracy, poor organizational systems, not enough equipment. And the federal government has been slow to respond to the pandemic, compared to other countries. The U.S. has tested, according to the best available data, around 125 people for every one million people in the country. In comparison, Australia has tested more than 1,000 people per million, Italy has tested more than 2,000 people per million, and South Korea has tested more than 5,000 people per million.

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