“Should I do it?” 

“What?” 

“Should I post this thread of that influencer I was telling you about? It seems like a lot of people are interested.” 

Like many New Yorkers—including the subject of this article—I escaped the city in the early days of the pandemic, nearly a year ago to the day. A few weeks into our “new normal,” I found myself in my parents’ living room in Midwestern suburbia, phone in hand, with my finger on the “send tweet” icon like a button that’s about to launch a nuclear missile. 

“Okay, l’m gonna do it, haha,” I said to my dad, who was seated next to me on the couch, but also to no one in particular, since he had his eyes glued to the UFC fight in front of us. I hit send, woefully unprepared for the storm I was about to unleash, although I didn’t know it then. 

I’d actually spent more time than I’d like to admit assembling the Twitter thread that picked apart Arielle Charnas’s disastrous moves during that fateful week in March 2020, when she shared with her followers that she had tested positive for Covid-19, then documented herself traveling to the Hamptons, then accidentally revealed her nanny was still working with the infected family, too. Piecing together the definitively problematic timeline with screenshots took hours, and I was exhausted. It was bedtime, and I entertained a few of the responses from my followers, but I definitely couldn’t have anticipated that I’d wake up in the morning to thousands of new notifications. Meghan McCain, Yashar Ali, Barstool Big Cat and more—someone’s dream blunt rotation, I’m sure, but not my own—had all retweeted my thread. I had inadvertently gone viral, and the story got picked up by Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed News, and random Australian papers across the world. 

The rest is history, and we know now that Charnas would go on to post a teary-eyed apology and then a written one before disappearing off social media for several weeks due to the backlash.

The apologies were warranted. Not only had Charnas flouted CDC quarantine guidelines to travel only eight days after testing positive for a highly contagious virus, she documented herself doing so to over one million followers on Instagram. In the early stages of the pandemic, when the public was confused and looking for information about the virus, Charnas, in full view of her followers, treated it like a minor inconvenience. It’s even been alleged by many insider sources that she infected their Hamptons real estate agent along the way—and it’s not difficult to believe that she did—although she denies the claims. 

Vanity Fair writer Kenzie Bryant—the author of the publication's piece covering the saga last year—published an article this week titled, “Revisiting the Great COVID Social Media Scolding,” which Charnas shared with a “thank you” and a heart emoji yesterday. It reads like an exoneration of her actions. 

 

“There’s no way to prove with hard data that anyone got the idea to go elsewhere from Charnas or anyone else who picked up and left their homes, but many did the same. Getting out of a city during a pandemic was not a difficult idea to come by on one’s own.”

I escaped the city, too. And I admit that openly because it was never about that. Here’s the important difference: Charnas was literally infected with the virus while she traveled. How can we leave that minor detail out of the equation? It’s the entire equation.  

“I can see now that one beat I didn’t hit hard enough was that Charnas was putting her own face out there because it was her job to always be posting. She became the poster child of people reaching into their pockets to escape the pandemic, even though she and her husband were already sick. She tried to explain that she was following advice from her doctors and the CDC. For terrified people looking for a visible person to project their anxieties on, none of that mattered.” 

What kind of doctors and CDC spokespeople were advising anyone to break quarantine to travel to a rental house with your employee and family while infected with a deadly virus? Asking for me, so I can personally request that their licenses to be revoked. 

The article goes on to say that Charnas was “flayed” for what other people ultimately ended up doing, too—traveling during a pandemic—to which I say, that is still not the case. No one, including myself, was mad that she traveled during a pandemic. It was the fact that she was literally COVID-positive, knew it, and chose to travel anyway along with her infected family and and employee. And it’s alarming to me that Charnas, most of all, still doesn’t seem to grasp that after an entire year. This is a fully grown, adult “businesswoman” who still doesn’t see the error in her ways. 

Let’s be clear here that if this happened today, almost 365 days later, with far more available public knowledge of the virus and things like masks and social distancing—with vaccination rollouts well under-way—I would still hit send on that Twitter thread. Because it was wrong, it’s still wrong, it always will be wrong, and Charnas attempting to justify her actions or blame her fledgling reputation on “media attacks” won’t change that.