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Silicon Valley VC firm offers to expedite coronavirus tests to its investors

March 25, 2020, 8:34 PM UTC

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Venture capital firm DCVC sent out an email to its investors on Tuesday, offering them special access to coronavirus testing kits, which are in short supply across the country.

“First, please let us know as soon as possible if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are unable to get tested. Through a unique relationship with one of our portfolio companies, we will expedite delivery of a test kit,” said the DCVC email.

The coronavirus testing offer, which was sent in the context of a broader email updating investors about DCVC, also said the test would be in the form of a cheek swab, and that recipients would receive results in one to three days via mail.

DCVC’s offer of coronavirus tests set off a firestorm on Twitter after Michael Arrington, a well-known tech entrepreneur, tweeted about it, expressing frustration that Silicon Valley insiders were getting an inside track.

“It just seems that the tests should go to people who need them, not people with connections,” Arrington said in a message to Fortune.

After word got out, DCVC published a blog post describing its email to investors as “boastful” and claiming that “no one is jumping in line.”

“Was our language a little boastful? Yes, no excuses. And we’re sorry if folks got the wrong idea,” says the blog post, which did not rescind its offer to its investors. DCVC tells Fortune that the firm is not retracting its offer, claiming that there was no offer to begin with.

In the blog post and a phone interview with Fortune, DCVC mentioned Carbon Health, which offers patients in-person and telehealth services.

DCVC’s blog post also calls attention to Curative, a startup that produces coronavirus test kits that have yet to be approved for home use by the FDA. According to a Wall Street Journal story published Monday, Curative was founded two weeks ago to perform coronavirus testing, and it has a partnership to provide patients with Carbon Health.

According to DCVC’s spokesperson, Curative’s test is currently being deployed at drive-thru testing centers in Los Angeles, which is permitted because the site has clinical supervision.

The controversy over DCVC offering coronavirus tests to its investors comes as Americans in pandemic-stricken regions like New York City and Washington State scramble to get tested. Meanwhile, people with the right connections—including celebrities and NBA players—appear to have enjoyed an inside track in obtaining the tests.

More coronavirus coverage from Fortune:

—Will ‘The Great Cessation’ be worse than the Great Recession?
The U.S. needs more ventilators. Why can’t it make them in time?
Which stores are open—and closed—during the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.?
College students struggle to find housing as the coronavirus pushes them off campus
—How to upgrade the background of your video chats
—IBM and The Weather Channel debut coronavirus map
—Listen to Leadership Next, a Fortune podcast examining the evolving role of CEO
—WATCH: World leaders and health experts on how to stop the spread of COVID-19

Subscribe to Outbreak, a daily newsletter roundup of stories on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on global business. It’s free to get it in your inbox.