Opinion | Celebrities’ easy access to COVID-19 testing is unfair to average Americans

Illustration by Ricardo Rodriguez

Gabriel Thomas, Contributing Writer

Money can buy practically anything these days. Cars. Homes. Clothes. And now, health. Celebrities and wealthy individuals have access to the best doctors and lawyers because of their seemingly endless wealth to pay for it. You know what they say, “Time is money,” and doctors seem to waste no time on celebrities. Even as average Americans are dying due to lack of testing for COVID-19, celebrities seem to have no problem getting tested and diagnosed. 

You might think President Donald Trump and officials in our government wouldn’t allow discrimination based on economic status during this pandemic. Wrong. 

It sickens me to see how many celebrities have found easy access to testing for COVID-19. What’s even more heartbreaking is that many normal people can’t even receive an exam to see if they have the virus. If by some miracle they can get a diagnosis, many Americans are struggling to receive the proper attention from health care professionals to recover from the coronavirus due to crowded and understaffed hospitals.

Celebrities all over the world have been announcing their diagnosis of the virus and what they’re doing to recover. At first glance, I think about how generous celebrities are to bring awareness to this pandemic by sharing their own stories. But after weeks of scrolling down my Instagram timeline and seeing more celebrities getting diagnosed, I start to feel a sense of resentment toward them. 

Everyday, average people are waiting in lines for hours on end, hoping to get tested for this illness. Hospitals are struggling to keep their doors open for patients. They are overwhelmed, and the brave men and women working are risking their own health every day to help the ill. Meanwhile, celebrities are buying their way out.

Many doctors’ offices and clinics are struggling to administer tests and treat patients for reasons ranging from unpreparedness to a lack of knowledge on COVID-19. In Siskiyou County, California, a physician’s assistant jumped through an array of hoops in an effort to help a patient. She was directed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, then later to the White House. Regardless of her efforts, it was an absolute circus for her to do her job of assisting the patient.

Now, had this patient been Idris Elba, Tom Hanks or any other celebrity, they would have been treated without hesitation. Unfortunately, it’s seeming like celebrities have more power over this outbreak than our own government does. 

Average Americans don’t have nearly enough exposure or money to get the fair treatment and testing they deserve. But celebrities obviously do. For instance, Elba was diagnosed with COVID-19 and is receiving treatment while quarantined until further notice. If health care professionals turned down Elba for an average American, his strong fan base all over the world would be furious. 

But, why? What’s the difference between Elba having coronavirus and a normal U.S citizen who works a 9-5 p.m. shift besides economic status? Absolutely nothing. They are both human beings fighting a terrifying virus that potentially could be fatal.

This pandemic isn’t just happening in Virginia or the United States; it’s happening all over the world. People are dying because they aren’t receiving proper testing, care and support — all because of money. Money is not worth the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people’s lives. It is a disgrace that celebrities get to sit up in their New York lofts and their Los Angeles mansions, never fearing that they won’t receive testing or care during this horrific time.

We are all humans. Whether we deserve to live shouldn’t be determined by how much we have in our bank accounts. Caring about others costs absolutely nothing. All life is far too valuable to let a selfish and money-hungry society control healthcare.  

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