Science | March 2, 2020 2:47 pm

How the Very Wealthy Are Preparing for a Coronavirus Outbreak

Lots of money doesn't always give you a leg up, but it can't hurt

Medical personnel and coronavirus
The ways the very wealthy are preparing for the coronavirus offer plenty to ponder.
Dipartimento Protezione Civile/Creative Commons

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, a growing number of people are becoming aware of the threat it poses. For some, that might mean inquiring about telecommuting; for others, it could translate into stocking up on supplies. A new article from Max Abelson at Bloomberg looks at another side of the outbreak: how the very, very wealthy are exploring their options.

This is a group that includes Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, a man who literally has a hospital named after him. As Abelson writes, health concerns have led some to do their research — even if there isn’t much that can actually be researched.

Tim Kruse, a doctor who makes house calls in Aspen, Colorado, said “the wealthy aren’t going to necessarily have access to things that the common person is not going to have access to.” But that hasn’t stopped them from asking if they can get their hands on a coronavirus vaccine. “The answer is no. They just want to know.”

On the plus side, if you have a net worth in the billions, you can buy a lot of hand sanitizer with it.

Abelson’s article also explores an unnerving paradox. The very wealthy might be deeply concerned about the coronavirus, but they are also in a place where they can isolate themselves more easily from the rest of the world. While working remotely is being discussed by a growing number of people as prevention measure, not all jobs permit that.

The Bloomberg article quotes the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School associate dean Jewel Mullen, who made an insightful comment on wealth and pandemics.

“Resources like money and transportation and information give people head starts on protective and preventive measures, and can help create more comfortable scenarios for people to cope with disasters,” said Mullen. It’s an unnerving look at how income disparity might play out in the midst of a public health crisis.

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