How Are The Rich Preparing For Coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus spreading out of Wuhan, China and causing the potentially severe respiratory infection COVID-19 is a matter of concern up and down the socioeconomic ladder. Viruses don't care if you're rich or poor. A global pandemic knows no borders and abides no prejudice. Unless you're rich.

In reality, the 1% have access to all kinds of luxuries and privileged trappings to help them ride out a pathogenic outbreak. From doomsday bunkers and private jets to designer face masks and the simple ability to work from home — fat stacks go a long way to avoiding infection with COVID-19. The coronavirus itself may not discriminate, but there are certainly tools of preparedness only available to people of means. Here's how the wealthiest among us are gearing up for a potential pandemic.

Staying healthy while still looking hip

You don't need to look any further than Gwyneth Paltrow's Instagram feed to see just how different the ultra-rich experience has been with coronavirus. Paltrow posted a picture modeling a black medical mask with the caption "I've already been in this movie," a reference to her role in the 2011 pandemic thriller Contagion.

The mask she's pictured wearing is apparently a Swedish Airinum mask, which the company describes as an "urban air mask." Yup. The product retails for upwards of $70 per mask. Even if you can afford that price point, you can save your cash because they're already super sold out.

According to an article in the New York Times, Airinum masks aren't the only designer disaster preparedness tools that have captured the imaginations of the rich and famous. Bigelow Apothecaries, a chic Greenwich Village company that carries virus-filtering face masks has apparently been out of their overpriced products for weeks. Their waiting list reportedly includes over 300 people who can't wait to overpay for designer protection.

Other wealthy patrons are skipping the Target-brand hand sanitizer and opting for a "rinse-free hand wash" alternative from European luxury brand Byredo. Their scented hand sanitizer costs $35 per bottle (as opposed to about $3.50 for the peasant stuff).

Private jets are the new business class

The wealthy are also changing their travel habits to avoid exposure to coronavirus. Executives are opting out of first and business class seats on commercial airliners, preferring to fly the sanitary skies in their own private jets. At a time when every errant cougher in the back rows of coach gets treated like Typhoid Mary, those who can afford to avoid the germ exposure of domestic carriers have been exiting the market in droves. This trend was further fed over the weekend by a recommendation made by Dr. Anthony Fauci on NBC's Meet the Press to avoid flying during a pandemic whenever possible.

Other rich folk reported to Bloomberg News that they plan to blow off work entirely and spend time in isolated vacation homes in the Hamptons or cabins out in Idaho. The virus will never find them there!

The sad truth is that all of these efforts are likely to offer wealthy Americans a privileged level of defense against COVID-19. The rest of us will just have to ride it out in our own homes, with a bottle of Purell and a $5.00 box of paper masks.