Miami Herald: One of the wealthiest Zip Codes in US purchased thousands of blood test kits

The Miami Herald reported on April 13, 2020 that “Everyone on exclusive Fisher Island, even the staff, can get tested for coronavirus.”   The article highlights that:


The purchase and availability of the testing are in sharp contrast to much of the rest of the state, where only about 1 percent of the population has been tested for the deadly virus that has caused a global pandemic. Most people who want a test have to meet certain criteria during a screening. Then an appointment must be set up, which generally means a lengthy wait in line. Those without vehicles can’t even access drive-thru testing sites.  But that wouldn’t cut it on Fisher Island, where memberships in the Fisher Island Club cost about $250,000 and the average annual income was $2.5 million in 2015 — the highest of any ZIP Code in America, according to Bloomberg.”

Sissy DeMaria, a spokeswoman for Fisher Island, noted that half of the island’s residents are over the age of 65, making them vulnerable to COVID-19. “Fisher Island asked UM Health Clinic whether the antibody testingcould be available and facilitated for all employees and residents through the on-site UHealth Clinic,” she said, adding that the island offered to cover the costs.

Testing and follow-up contact tracing for those who test positive is expected to be completed this week. The island ordered enough testing kits so that every resident and staff member could be tested, UHealth spokeswoman Lisa Worley said. UHealth has a clinic on Fisher Island whose doctors have helped administer the COVID-19 tests, Worley said. “This is what the Fisher Island residents wanted,” Worley said. “Our physicians ordered it for them, they paid for it themselves.

Earlier this month, the mayor said the county secured 10,000 blood tests that cost $17 apiece.  They were supplied by a company named BioMedomics, out of North Carolina.

A person with knowledge of Fisher Island’s testing who wished to remain anonymous said the test was offered to several Miami-Dade police officers who work there, and that results were available in 15 minutes.  Despite the rapid results, many federal health officials don’t recommend blood tests for diagnosing COVID-19, the deadly disease spawned by the novel coronavirus. That’s because it can take days, even weeks after someone has been infected to detect antibodies in the blood stream, causing some false-negative results.  Still, the tests are valuable in plotting the spread of the disease and helping health experts determine who has already fought it off. That could be especially helpful in places like Florida where nasal swab tests for the active virus were slow to get off the ground.”