Miami (CNN)Fisher Island is about seven minutes by boat from Miami Beach. But the posh enclave is a world away from the rest of South Florida when it comes to coronavirus testing.
On this pricey and private island near Miami Beach, everyone gets a coronavirus test
After the nearly 800 families in what Bloomberg calls the richest ZIP code in America became concerned about Covid-19, they did not wait in long lines for a test.
Fisher Island has its own health clinic, operated by the University of Miami Health System. The wealthy community is paying for newly available antibody testing for all of its residents -- half of whom are older than 60 -- and its staff, from housekeepers to marina workers. Some 1,250 employees and residents have been tested thus far, according to a spokeswoman for the community.
This amenity contrasts with the rest of South Florida, where no large concentration of residents have been able to take the simple blood test that determines whether they have antibodies that resulted from exposure to the virus.
The blood test is different from the nasal test, which is used to diagnose the illness. The nasal tests have becoming increasingly available in South Florida, but the wait for it can be long.
Testing on the private island, first reported by the Miami Herald, raised eyebrows and some consternation.
"I cannot reconcile the shoeless, mask-less, hungry children we fed today with this headline," Alberto M. Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, tweeted earlier this week. "Everyone on exclusive Fisher Island, even the staff, can get tested for coronavirus."
While the optics may suggest elitism, the health system stresses the mass testing on the island, which is just below South Beach and is accessible only by ferry or yacht, is justified.
One of the first confirmed cases of coronavirus in Miami-Dade County was on Fisher Island, they say. According to the state health department, there are between five and nine confirmed cases in the ZIP code.
About 950 residents and family members are on the island now, but that is a seasonal number, according to officials.
The tests are made by BioMedomics, according to Sissy DeMaria, spokesman for Fisher Island. On its website, the company said its blood test has not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration but is permitted under emergency guidance issued by the agency.
The University of Miami said the tests were in accordance with its clinical standards.
Still, providing them to all of Fisher Island "may have created the impression that certain communities would receive preferential treatment.
"That was not our intent," said spokeswoman Lisa Worley. She cited the confirmed case, the age of residents and the fact many had returned from travel to the Northeast.
"These factors, at the time, were