- Wealthy New Yorkers are paying people to stand in COVID-19 testing lines for them, the New York Post reported.
- Demand for tests has surged before Thanksgiving, leading to hours-long waits at some testing centres in the city.
- People on the freelance marketplace TaskRabbit offering to line-sit told the Post they’d been charging up to $US80 an hour. When they approach the front of the line, they call their client, who takes their place.
- One person told the Post that they were getting multiple inquiries every day and that most of the people willing to pay were “fairly young, maybe in their 20s,” who work from home and “have the money to spend.”
- TaskRabbit told Business Insider, “We encourage Taskers to not accept jobs for which they aren’t comfortable for any reason.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Some rich New Yorkers aren’t keen on waiting in line for a COVID-19 test â€” so they’re paying other people to do it for them.
Demand for tests has spiked as people prepare to meet up for the holidays, with some ignoring advice from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to stay at home. This has led to hours-long waits at some testing centres.
People on the freelance marketplace TaskRabbit are advertising line-sitting services, and some are getting paid hundreds of dollars, the New York Post reported.
When they reach the front of the line, they call their client, who then takes their place.
A TaskRabbit user named Lucy told the Post she charged one customer $US80 an hour. She said that when she showed up at the testing centre, she was disappointed because the line looked short. But she ended up waiting for three hours, pocketing $US240.
“I was socially distanced, I had my mask on, everyone else was socially distanced and, you know, I just like spent the time in line talking to my grandma and stuff,” Lucy said.
‘Every day I’m getting inquiries’
One out-of-work writer waiting in a line outside a CityMD in SoHo told the Post they were getting asked to wait in lines every day.
“I’ve already done this about five times already,” she said. “One day I got hired to do two lines, so that’s how busy it is. Every day I’m getting inquiries.”
She added: “A lot of people want to visit family or take trips for Thanksgiving and they need some kind of documentation stating they’re COVID-free. One of my clients said they’re going on a trip and she needs documentation before she goes.”
She said that most of the people willing to pay were “fairly young, maybe in their 20s,” who work from home and “have the money to spend.”
The New York Times journalist Taylor Lorenz posted a video on Twitter showing a long line of people waiting for COVID-19 tests.
Some people on social media expressed concern about people waiting in line for others, arguing that this could worsen the spread of the virus.
Seriously… Can we talk about this? @TaskRabbit allows people to get paid to wait in line for others getting a Covid test at CITYMD.
They taking the test for them too or…
— Susie Carmichael (@LadyBlogga) November 22, 2020
“This year, there are some Taskers choosing to wait in line for clients seeking COVID-19 tests,” TaskRabbit said in a statement sent to Business Insider.
“Because details of all tasks are shared by clients in advance, Taskers know the types of lines in which they will be waiting, and the decision about whether to accept the task lies with the Tasker.
“We encourage Taskers to not accept jobs for which they aren’t comfortable for any reason.”
The company added: “As always, the safety and well-being of all users on the platform is our biggest priority, and we ask all Taskers and clients to adhere to safety best practices and TaskRabbit’s guidelines for using our platform.”
As more people get tested before Thanksgiving, Business Insider took photos showing some of the long lines in cities such as Los Angeles and New York.
In a national survey by Ohio State University conducted earlier this month, about 40% of respondents indicated they were planning to gather in person during the holiday season. A third of respondents said they would not ask guests to wear masks.
Many states have announced restrictions on large gatherings. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on November 11 that he would ban gatherings larger than 10 people at private residences.
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