By now, we’re all deeply aware of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and hopefully we’re all taking precautions to stop the spread of this deadly illness. While many celebrities and influencers have used their platforms to spread awareness and contribute financially during this time, there are others who just don’t seem to get it. Of course, there have been tone-deaf posts, and some social distancing failures, but no one’s recent behavior is as baffling as that of Arielle Charnas, also known as Something Navy.
Normally known for her Nordstrom clothing brand and her huge social media following, Charnas is often a lightning rod for controversy, and especially so in the last two weeks. The backlash began on March 16th, when she shared her experience of getting tested for COVID-19, despite acknowledging that she did not meet the standard criteria to receive a test. From there, things have gotten pretty complicated, and everyone is trying to figure out WTF Arielle is doing.
In a meticulously documented Twitter thread, writer Sophie Ross called into question Charnas’ “dangerous and bizarre behavior surrounding her COVID-19 diagnosis.” Let’s go through some of the most important questions, and then I’ll try to piece this all together into some kind of coherent timeline.
From the beginning, people took issue with Arielle getting tested, and for how she documented the experience. She shared on Instagram that she was feeling sick, but her symptoms seemed mild, and not all of them even lined up with COVID-19. She also said that her doctor had told her to “quarantine herself” and stay home rather than seeking treatment (which she obviously did not listen to). The CDC also states that most people with mild illness “are able to recover at home” and don’t need to be tested. But instead of following that advice, Arielle Charnas posted that she “called up a doctor friend” who agreed to test her at his urgent care facility—without her even getting out of her car. She documented the whole process on her Instagram story, and also tagged the doctor who gave her the test.
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In the Twitter thread, Sophie Ross notes that Charnas got dragged for all of this, including a New York Post headline “Influencer Uses Personal Connections To Get Coronavirus Test.” Well, they’re not wrong. Along with angry tweets and comments, she was also called out by outlets like Diet Prada and The Daily Mail for flaunting her privilege and “cutting the line” for a COVID-19 test. While Arielle later claimed she did not use her privilege and paid for her test like everyone else, the fact remains that most people in the U.S. are not able to call up their doctor friend and get a COVID-19 test despite showing mild symptoms, at worst.
As you probably know by now, Arielle tested positive for COVID-19 a couple days later, but that’s not where this story ends. There are approximately one million questions surrounding Arielle’s behavior in the two weeks since her diagnosis, mostly involving her questionable quarantine/isolation period. On her posts in the past couple weeks, she’s gotten tons of comments with genuine questions and concerns about her behavior, and she’s mostly ignored all of them. Now, she’s turned off the comments on most of her recent posts, but Ross’ Twitter thread has tons of screenshots, and there’s a lot to at least call into question.
In the past week, the biggest questions about this whole situation regarding the Charnas family’s move from their New York City apartment to their Hamptons house. While traveling isn’t advisable right now even if you’re showing no symptoms of COVID-19, it’s especially problematic if you know for a fact you have coronavirus. The timeline is important here, so let’s break down what’s actually been going on.
Arielle hosts her daughter Ruby’s fourth birthday party at the Museum of Ice Cream in New York City. In a blog post about the party, she writes that guests “were able to play on swing sets, climb monkey bars, play basketball, and mingle with Disney princesses,” and that they also “dove into the sprinkle pool.” Sounds sanitary! Pay attention to this date, it will be important later.
Arielle posts on her Instagram story that she’s felt sick for the “past two days,” and shares her symptoms. She also says that her doctor advised her to “quarantine herself” and not come in for treatment. She says that she doesn’t meet the New York requirements to get a coronavirus test.
Later that day, she says that her friend, Dr. Deutsch (whom she tags), says that he’ll test her at his urgent care clinic. She documents the whole experience, as she gets swabbed without getting out of her car. She says that she tested negative for the flu.
When BuzzFeed reaches out for comment later that day, Arielle says “We aren’t commenting further on Covid … but appreciate the note. Stay safe!!” She shares on Instagram that night that her fever has gone down and she’s feeling better, but she won’t have test results for a few days.
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Despite telling BuzzFeed that she won’t be “commenting further on Covid,” Arielle shares on Instagram on Wednesday morning that she has tested positive for COVID-19. In a lengthy Notes app post, she says that she is “following the guidelines of the CDC,” and that in addition to continuing to “quarantine/self-isolate”, she will “get in touch with the family and friends that I’ve been in close contact with over the past 2 weeks.” That better include everyone from the Museum of Ice Cream, because Arielle was there just nine days before she got tested.
In the post, Arielle also gives an update on the status of her family. She says her kids “aren’t showing any symptoms,” but that they’re “watching them super closely.” She says that her husband Brandon “is also unwell and resting with us.” This would suggest that the kids and husband are the only people around Arielle—remember that. As Sophie Ross points out on Twitter, “it seems strange that a COVID+ person wouldn’t completely self-isolate”, but during this entire period, Arielle Charnas clearly makes no effort not to be in close contact with her kids.
In an Instagram story, Charnas announces that she and her husband are symptom-free, and have left their NYC apartment to spend some time at their Hamptons home. She says that they “felt better around the ninth or tenth day,” and “now at day 14 we feel perfect.” First of all, day 14 of what? This is only eight days after she was diagnosed with COVID-19, which means she could be contagious for another week, at least. And according to a study from the American Thoracic Society, half of patients “treated for mild COVID-19 infection still had coronavirus for up to eight days after symptoms disappeared.” The authors of the study urged that we should “treat the asymptomatic/recently recovered patients as carefully as symptomatic patients.” With this eight-day figure in mind, that means that if Arielle felt better on day nine, she should have waited until at least day 17 before leaving her apartment.
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The next day, Charnas shares a photo of herself out for a walk in the Hamptons with one of her children. For someone without coronavirus, this wouldn’t really be a problem. But that’s the difference between social distancing and isolation. If you know you have the virus, you shouldn’t be leaving your house for any reason. Of course, that ship already sailed when she traveled from the city to the Hamptons, but even still. Even though Charnas hasn’t had symptoms for nearly a week, she could very well still be contagious!
Another piece of this puzzle is Arielle’s nanny. On Saturday, Arielle went live on Instagram from her Hamptons house, and seemed to accidentally show her nanny in the shot. Naturally, this raised a lot of questions. Remember how, in Arielle’s initial announcement about her diagnosis, she specifically made it seem like she was only with her husband and kids? So when did the nanny show up?
Arielle attempts to clear this up on Sunday, responding to a comment saying, “my nanny and I got sick together unfortunately and she hasn’t left us since.” If this is true, I guess it’s good that she didn’t leave to go somewhere else, but how convenient for Arielle that her nanny has to work even while she has coronavirus! But then Arielle ends her comment by saying “but she’s perfect now too!” Which… no. If she and her nanny got sick “together,” it’s definitely been less than two weeks since their last symptoms, so no one here is “perfect.” Sure, the symptoms might have gone away, but that doesn’t mean Arielle and her nanny are not still contagious.
While there are a lot of questions here, it seems that, at best, Arielle Charnas has made some strange and careless choices in the past couple weeks. If I had to guess, she probably won’t address most of the specific questions that have been raised, and she’s already gone back to posting her normal lifestyle content. If you want a complete rundown of all the sketchiness that’s gone down, check out Sophie Ross’ Twitter thread—I literally couldn’t stop thinking about this last night. Stay safe everyone, and don’t go to your Hamptons house right now!
UPDATE: After receiving tons of backlash, Arielle finally responded to all the criticisms levied against her in a very lengthy Instagram post. It’s basically a Notes App screenshot apology, but using a slightly nicer-looking app. I’m not going to comment on every aspect of the apology, but here it is if you’d like to read the entire thing.
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Like, it’s good that Arielle is apologizing and attempting to clear up some of the ambiguities in her timeline and explain why she did some of the things that she did. However, there are still a couple of things that don’t quite add up.
In the seventh picture in the carousel, Arielle claims that she and her family self-quarantined in their Manhattan home for 14 days after the onset of symptoms on March 13. The only problem? According to Ross’s timeline and other outlets, the Charnas family left for the Hamptons on March 26. She even Instagrammed from a place that definitely doesn’t look like Manhattan on March 26th. Yes, it’s technically only one day short from Arielle’s 14-day claim, but it just shows that her timeline is not quite adding up.
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Also unacknowledged in Arielle’s lengthy apology is the person who supposedly must have come to the house to set up their internet.
At the end of the day, we are all fully aware that information about COVID-19 is changing by the day, and humans make mistakes—but usually those mistakes don’t involve endangering the lives of others. When you base your livelihood around oversharing your lifestyle with millions of people, you should take extra care to act responsibly. And if you do willingly broadcast your own irresponsible actions and get called out on it, come with a proper apology, because rest assured everyone will have the receipts.
Images: Sean Zanni / Getty Images; diet_prada, ariellecharnas / Instagram