Donald Trump responded to reports that rich Americans appear to be getting priority access to coronavirus tests, offering a controversial response after several high-profile cases of well-connected being tested before those more in need.
As Mother Jones noted, NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander asked Trump about whether the well-connected are able to “go to the front of the line” to get access to the limited tests for COVID-19. Trump said he did not agree with the idea, but noted that the rich getting better access to health care is just a fact of life.
“No, I wouldn’t say so,” Trump replied when asked if he thought it was right for the well-connected to jump to the top of the line.
“But perhaps that’s been the story of life. That does happen on occasion and I’ve noticed where some people have been tested fairly quickly.”
Trump’s answer came after reports that several members of the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for coronavirus, including Kevin Durant. Three of the four players who tested positive were reportedly not showing symptoms, leading to some controversy over why they were given tests over people who are more in need. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was among those critical of the decision to test the players.
After news that several players had tested positive, de Blasio offered both well wishes and some criticism on Twitter.
“We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” the New York City mayor wrote.
“Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.”
Others criticized the Nets for obtaining and testing players who were otherwise healthy, though some experts have said that people not experiencing symptoms may be the ones spreading the virus the most.
The Brooklyn Nets noted that the players were tested after returning from San Francisco and that the team paid a private company to conduct the tests.
After initial statements downplaying the severity of the outbreak in the early days of its spread to the United States, Trump has since adopted a more solemn tone in recent addresses. As Politico noted, Trump insisted this week that he never underestimated the severity of the outbreak, saying that he knew all along that it was a pandemic, even before the World Health Organization had declared it.