Instagram Influencers Draw Follower Ire Throughout Coronavirus

During the yellow fever epidemic in 1793, around 20,000 people fled Philadelphia – including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and much of the federal government. They had one thing in common: they were all privileged people and had the means to flee.

Fast forward 227 years to 2020, and while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised Americans to avoid all unnecessary travel, a handful of privileged people continue to do so. Influencers – whether mom bloggers, fashionistas or culinary artists – roam free and flaunt it on Instagram, social distancing is doomed.

Is the Pandemic a Vacation? No, but it’s normal for some of the biggest social media oversharers like fashionista Arielle Charnas and cook queen Ali Maffuci. Some call them Covid idiots, others have threatened and berated them for their reckless galloping, from packing RVs and road trips through Florida to hiding in civic retreats in the Hamptons. It’s not hard to find evidence of this: recent travel photos can be found literally everywhere on their social channels.

“I see this as a stock issue,” Drew Harris, professor of health policy at Thomas Jefferson University, told InsideHook. “Coronavirus only spreads through personal contact and we know that 20 percent or more are asymptomatic spreaders. Anyone traveling to a different area can potentially spread the disease. This puts people at risk unnecessarily. This pandemic will only stop if people stop spreading the virus. “

Charnas is a Manhattan-based influencer whose lifestyle blog Something Navy is collecting affiliate compensation for clothing sold through the website. Via her Instagram account, where she has 1.3 million followers, she announced to followers on March 17 that she had tested positive for COVID-19, but 11 days later she posted a photo of herself from the Hamptons .

Charnas is not alone. The Hamptons are being filled by New Yorkers who are giving up their city lives for homes in rural areas. The population of Southampton has increased from 60,000 to 100,000 in the past few weeks.

However, a local did not see them. “We haven’t seen rich people with COVID-19 arriving in droves,” said Dede Gotthelf, owner of the Southampton Inn. “Everyone I’ve seen respects distancing and wears masks, bandanas, and gloves for shopping.”

Aside from the problem of New Yorkers invading the Hamptons, Charnas has been criticized for not being quarantined for 14 days and for having access to a medical test that many others can only get if they have direct connections with medical staff .

Although Charnas claims she followed CDC’s quarantine guidelines, she apologized via a post on her blog: “We are and have always tried, through our ongoing discussions with medical professionals, to take reasonable precautions to leave Manhattan without coming to get in touch with him. Everyone from point A to point B… My family and I apologize for those we have offended for not seeming to take this crisis seriously, and we are determined to make informed and responsible decisions. “

A tearful Instagram story echoed those feelings: “I’ve never meant to hurt anyone in a million years and we’re not bad people,” she said.

Despite the mea culpa, Charnas says she continued to receive “terrible threats”, including death threats. The comments that can still be seen publicly on her Instagram tend to be mere character criticisms: “This woman is so morally bankrupt”, “Shame on you”, “Fortunately not following” etc.

Anonymous followers aren’t the only ones who have taken note of Charnas’ ill-advised adventure. Nordstrom, who recruited her for a campaign in 2019, tweeted last week that they don’t see any future collaborations.

New Jersey-based influencer Ali Maffucci, a healthy eating attorney who runs a recipe blog called Inspiralized with 200,000 Instagram followers, has also been criticized for moving her family to Florida last month amid the coronavirus. The blogger was badly shot at by her followers on Instagram. Many of them were outraged by their decision to move to quarantine on March 30th.

In an Instagram photo, she is standing by a pool and palm trees. One commenter wrote: “If everyone did what you did, the pandemic would be a lot worse. You have made a very selfish decision and are very open to criticism. In addition, you have used your public platform irresponsibly. “

Another commented, “Why would you ever post this? Your business doesn’t outperform public health during a pandemic. “

In an interview with the New York Post, Mafucci was not exactly contrite about her decision not to obey instructions on site protection.

“I don’t welcome negativity,” she told the newspaper. “I’ve gotten a lot of criticism from people who said I’m promoting something that the government says can’t. What I am saying is that we are all single adults. “

For Harris, Maffucci’s case is what he calls “going from the pan to the fire”. “Florida cases are growing rapidly and the state response has been more anemic than the New York and New Jersey areas,” he says. “Florida may look safer right now because they haven’t done enough tests to know how widespread their disease is.”

Across the river in Manhattan, Naomi Davis, aka Love Taza, lives on the Upper West Side as a mother of five with half a million followers. She recently announced her family’s decision to travel west in an RV so her family can roam around in the great outdoors. In an Instagram post, she wrote, “Hopefully a little change of scene is just what we need – for everyone’s physical health, for my recently spiraling headspace – and for our children’s own mental health.”

Among the 4,000 comments on this post, one wrote, “Every part of me wants to escape NYC. We’re not doing it because it would just be wrong to take the virus to new places. I cannot understand this woman at all. Bad enough that she made the decision to send it out to thousands of people who may be encouraged to do the same? “

Another wrote: “Everyone has problems being cooped up for weeks / months. Everyone would prefer a change of scene and some fresh air. She’s no more special than anyone else just because she has followers and doesn’t stop having children. “

The behavior of Davis and others drew the wrath of Malika Bowling, president of the US Association of Bloggers.

“It is absolutely irresponsible to travel during this time while we are being quarantined,” says Bowling. “If you choose to openly ignore the rules, or worse, believe that you are above them, you may encourage others to do the same too.”

“It’s a responsibility to be an influencer,” she adds. “Those who break the rules could directly or indirectly spread the virus. Brands should terminate contracts with these reckless and selfish ones. ”

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