Social media influencer Arielle Charnas, who sparked outrage in March when she disclosed she tested positive for COVID-19 after being screened by a friend, is facing renewed backlash for retreating to the Hamptons.
Charnas, based in New York City, said in a lengthy statement posted on her blog Thursday and to her 1.3 million Instagram followers, that she wanted to "share the truth" and "above all else," express her sincerest remorse.
Charnas said she was speaking out, in part, to address accusations she had falsified her test results, which she said was "unequivocally untrue." She also claimed to have received death threats against her entire family, including her two young daughters. The New York Police Department told NBC News on Friday in response to an inquiry about Charnas' claim: "There are no complaint reports on file with the name provided."
In mid-March, the Something Navy blogger and designer said on Instagram that she had had a sore throat and a fever for the "past two days." She said she was told she did not meet the criteria to be tested for COVID-19, and that she should treat her symptoms at home.
But a short time after, Charnas said in her Instagram Stories that she had tested positive for the coronavirus and that her friend Dr. Jake Deutsch supplied the test.
"I realize that there are many individuals, both in New York City, and nationwide, who do not have the ability to receive immediate medical care at the first sign of sickness, and access to care is #1 priority in a time like this,” she wrote in a March 18 Instagram post.
She faced swift backlash from people who said, among other things, that she was privileged and had received preferential treatment at a time when many sick people, including healthcare workers, were unable to get diagnoses.
After she tested positive, Charnas posted several photos of herself. In one photo uploaded seven days ago, she posed outdoors in front of a pool in the Hamptons. That photo was captioned: "Fresh air" and included a prayer hands emoji. The photo was no longer visible on her Instagram page as of Friday afternoon.
Commenters questioned in the photo caption why she traveled to the Hamptons on Long Island, which has become a popular destination for New York City residents seeking to flee the densely populated city during the pandemic.
Charnas defended the decision in her statement Thursday, saying that after she learned she tested positive for COVID-19 on March 19, she, along with her husband and their nanny, both of whom also tested positive, and the couple's children, followed all of their doctors' recommendations "to a tee." Charnas said they quarantined at her home in New York City for 14 days beginning March 13 when she first began feeling ill.
"Once we properly monitored our symptoms and determined that a) we had no fever for at least 72 hours, b) all symptoms had improved and c) at least seven days had passed since our symptoms first appeared, we decided to leave the city, after several consultations with doctors who granted us permission," she said.
New York City is dense, Charnas said, and has "the highest number of cases in the U.S., and we felt it would be safer for us to resume our lives while continuing to quarantine elsewhere."
She claims the family left New York City and traveled to the Hamptons by car without coming into contact with anyone.
Some people were so upset by Charnas' decision to uproot her family that they contacted Nordstrom, the retailer she had collaborated with for a clothing collection last year.
"@Nordstrom - is this the kind of behavior you tolerate from the face of one of your brands? Please do not support the brand of someone who carelessly and selfishly ignores regulations and health guidelines," one user tweeted Thursday.
Nordstrom responded: "Hello. Our partnership with Arielle Charnas ended in 2019, and we have no foreseeable collaborations. Thank you."
Charnas said she has learned that the career and life path she has chosen comes with a powerful responsibility.
"We all make mistakes, including me, especially when a crisis such as this is developing so quickly," she concluded in her Thursday statement. "My family and I are truly sorry to those we have offended for not appearing to be taking this crisis gravely seriously, and we are committed to making informed, responsible decisions moving forward."