As the tragic and persistent coronavirus scuttles Thanksgiving plans for millions of Americans, new forms of trade have begun.
In New York City, people who need some quick money have found people who need assurance that they don’t have COVID-19.
The New York Post reported a growing industry in which those who can afford it are paying the less-fortunate to wait hours in line for coronavirus testing.
Freelance marketplace TaskRabbit has a number of would-be workers who are agreeing to wait in line for rates that vary from $20 an hour to several times that.
“Honestly I do weirder things than this on TaskRabbit all the time so this was actually like a sweet gig,” Lucy, 27, told the Post, adding that she has collected $80 an hour for the job.
With the vaccines still months away for most, there is every opportunity for repeat business.
“I’ve already done this about five times already,” one out-of-work writer told the Post as she waited in line in Soho for someone else. “One day I got hired to do two lines, so that’s how busy it is. Every day I’m getting inquiries.”
The tests, of course, do not guarantee freedom from the virus in the coming days. The individual who tests negative today would run additional risk by seeing family and friends at home.
“The waiting in line thing I totally understand it, my qualm with it isn’t because it’s dangerous,” Lucy said. “Relatively speaking, it’s less dangerous for a tasker to wait outside in a mask for a few hours than it is to think getting a test before you see family is the thing that’s going to make everything OK.”