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Exclusive Island Buys Coronavirus Tests for All Residents

Fisher Island plan is proving controversial
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2020 12:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – It's a question on many minds across the US: Have I already been exposed to the coronavirus? Antibody tests can answer just that, but they're difficult to come by ... unless you live on Fisher Island, Fla., an exclusive, private island off Miami that the New York Times says is "one of the wealthiest places in America." The island has purchased thousands of test kits, one for each of the people who live and work there, through the University of Miami Health System, the Miami Herald reports. They cost $17 each, and 1,250 have been tested since April 6. The test is a finger-prick blood test that produces results within minutes; it is not the diagnostic test for COVID-19, which involves a nasal swab and determines whether a person has an active infection.

Even so, some local leaders were upset to hear that residents of Fisher Island (where the average annual income was $2.5 million in 2015) were having such an easy time being tested when so many others are facing difficulties. "Should our lives depend on ZIP code?" reads one sample headline. The university acknowledged that by providing the tests, it "may have created the impression that certain communities would receive preferential treatment," which "was not our intent." It says it will revise its "process for reviewing testing outreach requests." And an island resident has committed $200,000 to a foundation to provide the same tests to hard-hit areas of Miami. (Just before the pandemic, a tragic Fisher Island story was making headlines.)

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