New York has become the epicenter of coronavirus in the U.S, with at least 1,000 deaths and 60,000 confirmed cases in the state, according to the New York Times. During the month of March, every few days brought about restrictions for NY residents: stay inside, practice social distancing, only travel for essentials, etc. None of that, it appears, has managed to make an impact on certain influencers.
Take Naomi Davis, known as Taza on Instagram, who is a family/lifestyle influencer with nearly 500,000 followers, and lives in New York City with her five children and husband. On Sunday, Davis posted a picture showing her family getting ready to pack into a large RV and hit the road. “After two full weeks in the apartment,” she announced in the caption, her family has decided to “drive out west so we can have a little more space (namely some outdoor space for the kids) for a little while.” Despite the fact that this trip will likely require numerous stops at gas stations, rest stops, and other necessary locales along the way, Davis believes that renting an RV, taking her family from a high incident zone and bringing them to lower incident zones, is still an ethical practice.
“While we’ve been diligent about self-quarantining and social distancing in New York City, we want to make sure we still stay away from others during our trip (even though no one in our family has had any symptoms, you could always be asymptomatic),” she writes. “For this reason, we decided to rent an RV in order to avoid hotels and people and just eat and sleep in the RV on the way.” (I would love to know which medical professional recommended the practice.)
Loyal followers in her comments have commended her for the decision. “Oh Naomi, sending all the love and prayers for a safe journey and greener pastures for the next few months,” writes one user. “Totally understand and support your decision beautiful family!” writes another. Unsurprisingly, the European commenters are less than thrilled: “You can’t do that in Italy !! It’s very very difficult to stay closed at home but you can’t go anywhere at this moment!”
The obvious danger here is that Davis and her family could—even while asymptomatic, even while being careful—spread germs to uninfected populations. They might contract the virus while on the road and strain the medical system in places with fewer resources. Her post could inspire others to follow her lead, to ignore CDC regulations and leave highly infected areas because that is what influencers are supposed to do. They influence.
Davis isn’t alone in her influencer migration. One of the women behind The Home Edit, a home organization company based out of Los Angeles, New York and Nashville, has also decided to embark on a cross-country RV road trip and document her journey for 1.5 million Instagram followers. On Friday, the official Home Edit account posted that co-founder Clea Shearer, her mother-in-law, her husband John and their two kids were leaving on a cross-country road trip from California to Nashville. “We figured it was the safest and most responsible way to travel home,” the caption reads in language almost identical to Davis’s, adding, “#socialdistancing #quarantine.” (Jezebel has reached out to Naomi Davis and The Home Edit for comment and will update when they respond.)
Someone who was actively participating in #socialdistancing might note that California was placed under a “stay at home” order not long after New York, and that leaving for a cross-country vacation adventure is in direct opposition to it. Even worse, The Home Edit posted a multi-part Instagram story describing a large grocery, specifying that they made sure to use “gloves to unpack, wiped everything with colored, cleaned all produce, and sanitized the countertops” once it arrived. I wonder, would they take such precautions on the road, during the inevitable bathroom break or gas station stop? Should the safety of those they come in contact with be dependent on Shearer maintaining this diligence, even when it’s not her own family at risk?