The pandemic sees no class barriers as it spreads across the world.

As the US, the world’s richest and most powerful country, desperately fights a deadly virus with its coronavirus cases topping everyone else's, an unusual picture of equality, empowered by the virus’ brutal treatment of all humans no matter who they are, emerges.

Media agencies report increasing death tolls and cases every hour accompanied by breaking news like “Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, tests positive for coronavirus”. Its latest victim is the UK’s premier, Boris Johnson. 

The world’s seemingly untouchable elites are as vulnerable as the working class to what the US President Donald Trump called “an invisible enemy”.

“Epidemic diseases have always been social levellers. In some sense, no one escapes.” said David Rosner, a public health historian at Columbia University. 

Among the infected elites are Rand Paul, the US Republican senator, Monaco’s Prince Albert II, Canadian first lady Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, actors Tom Hanks and Idris Elba, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow and others. 

“No one is immune... we’re all susceptible,” the Washington Post reported. 

The virus has hit New York City particularly hard, home to some of the wealthiest people in the US and the world, where it has killed more people than any other place in the country. 

“You can’t find . . . ventilators no matter how much you’re willing to pay right now,” Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor, said in a gloomy assessment of the situation. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, March 24, 2020.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, March 24, 2020. (Mike Segar / Reuters)

The dire situation forces the city’s richest to leave the metropolis to find safe zones in other places like the Hamptons, a coastal enclave of New York where the wealthy often keep summer homes. 

But they have not been welcomed there by locals. Year-round residents, who mostly live on average wages, feel that New York City’s elite is spreading the virus to their locality. 

Residents of other vacation spots close to the city share the same distrust. 

Linda Michel, a resident of Surf City on Long Beach Island in New Jersey, is one of them.

“We don’t want your bugs,” Michel said, referring to the potential carriers.

Across southern New Jersey, one of the most popular bumpers stickers on cars is a testy message to the rich: “Welcome to the shore. Now go home.”

Fearing for their lives, some Americans, whose country has become the epicentre of the pandemic, are also seeking to leave home for Mexico, where they are not being welcomed either. 

People walk towards Mexico (R) on the international bridge as efforts to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue at the US-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas, U.S. March 21, 2020.
People walk towards Mexico (R) on the international bridge as efforts to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue at the US-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas, U.S. March 21, 2020. (Veronica G. Cardenas / Reuters)

According to the BBC, residents of Mexico’s Sonora, which is located close to the southern US state of Arizona, refused to receive Americans, holding signs reading “stay at home”. Mexico so far has far fewer confirmed cases of Covid-19 than the US. 

It’s a totally unexpected turn of events for Washington under the Trump presidency which has been recently planning to build a wall across the US-Mexico border to prevent immigrants from entering the country. 

But now inversely, Mexicans are refusing to receive Americans. 

“You can try to run off to another country but that might not be safe, either,” William Haseltine, the famed Harvard biologist, said as the cases across the world continue to pile up.  Haseltine has been credited with developing a crucial study on HIV. 

“Where would you go?” Haseltine asked, referring to the wealthy. 

Source: TRT World