In the wake of SARS-CoV-2 (the novel Coronavirus), there has been an insatiable demand for coronavirus tests. It seems that everyone wants to be tested, but many cannot get a test, as they are in short supply. Testing consists of taking a sample from the back of a patient’s nasal passage. After the sample is collected, it is sent to a lab to be analyzed. Similar to other viruses, there are a variety of tests used to detect Coronavirus, with each have varying levels of success. The different tests include ones that detect the virus itself (RT-PCR and isothermal nucleic acid amplification) and ones that detect antibodies that are produced in response to the virus.
A major question many are asking is if these tests are similar to flu tests, which are readily given and seem to be a simple enough process, why is it so difficult to get one? And why does it seem that only the rich and famous can receive them? There is a national shortage of tests, meaning that people who have symptoms for COVID-19 cannot get the testing that they need in order to get treatment. Despite this, many prominent celebrities have obtained tests without having any symptoms or having been in contact with someone who has the virus, which is required by many testing guidelines. There are large lines in order to be tested nearly everywhere in this country, but celebrities get to bypass these lines completely by using their status and wealth. The whole New York Nets team was tested, and as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio put it, “an entire NBA team should not get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested.” This is just one case out of many where due to fame and fortune, celebrities are taking tests right out of the hands of the people who have been waiting in line for and need them. Sadly, this is a common trend in society where the wealthy use their privilege to obtain things, such as Coronavirus tests, more easily than others, and it is something that cannot be ignored. After reading this, you might be wondering what you can do to help in this time of testing shortages. To start, only get a coronavirus test if you are showing symptoms. The CDC or Center for Disease Control has a coronavirus self checker on its website that informs you if you should seek medical attention or not. Before you panic and get a test, think of the people who need them, and then rethink if you really need one if your symptoms are not life-threatening. And of course, as you have been told, again and again, stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 to make sure the people who need tests and treatment are able to receive them. Stay safe! We will all get through this together.