People Are Being Paid to Stand in Long COVID Testing Lines

People are losing it after a TikTok video showing how to hire somebody to wait in line for a coronavirus test went viral, slamming the development as “dystopian” and proof that “society is so broken.”

The video, originally posted by @thetipguynyc, gives step-by-step instructions on how to avoid spending your time waiting in the long COVID-19 testing lines that plague some parts of the country.

It’s a simple plan: You search for “wait in line” as a task on TaskRabbit, type in the address of the testing location, and “sort by cheapest available” Taskers to find someone to take your spot and text you when they’re up at the front of the line.

Hiring other people to wait in long lines is nothing new, especially in New York City, where the video originated. And while some people have issues with that in and of itself, it simply isn’t something that’s going away in the current gig economy.

Reporter Kat Tenbarge summed up the real problem most people are having with this pandemic-specific hiring process.

“Finding the lowest-paid person on an app to stand in line with people who are likely infected with COVID so you can get tested without having to wait is just sadism disguised as a life hack,” she wrote.

Others echoed the sentiment, calling it a workaround that benefits the rich and serves to further highlight the divide between classes in the United States, often with racial undertones that can’t be ignored.

“I think a little part of my soul just died,” @pucktistic tweeted upon watching the video.

As some folks pointed out, there wouldn’t be a demand for people willing to wait in line if our testing process was going more smoothly rather than requiring hours and hours of waiting in places like New York. Not to mention the fact that people wouldn’t need to risk their lives for $18.82 an hour if the government was looking out for Americans struggling to find work during a pandemic.

The original video doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but there’s no doubt people have been using Taskers to wait in line for COVID tests prior to its creation and will continue to do so even without the “helpful tip” from a TikTok video. 

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*First Published: Nov 22, 2020, 4:20 pm

Rachel Kiley

Rachel Kiley is a writer who sometimes writes things and sometimes is based in L.A., but is definitely always on Twitter @rachelkiley.

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