“We all make mistakes,” Ms. Charnas said in an email statement, “including me, especially when a crisis such as this is developing so quickly. My family and I apologize to those we have offended for not appearing to be taking this crisis seriously, but I am absolutely committed to making informed, responsible decisions for my family and community.”
Ms. Maffucci said that the decision to leave her apartment was not one that she took lightly. She was prepared for the backlash, but she ultimately felt that her family would be safer in Florida.
“When people say, ‘Why do you think you can go and just spread it around?’ I don’t think they understand that if I stay home in Jersey City I risk interacting with and infecting more people than staying in a private home in Florida where I’m self-quarantining for 14 days and able to see nobody but my family,” she said.
“I think that the public health officials, of course, say shelter in place, but what they’re not taking into consideration are all those situations like mine,” she added. “I think we do have a responsibility as influencers to go along with what public health officials are saying. But also, we’re scared. This is the decision we made and we tried to make it safely.”
Mordechai Sacks, a physician assistant and primary care provider at Larchmont Family Medicine, said that the idea that any of these people are safer in smaller communities or other states is a flawed one. Many vacation towns have fewer medical resources to deal with a sudden onslaught of sick and contagious out-of-towners, and Florida is full of older citizens, who are at higher risk of becoming critically ill with the virus, he said. “New York City is by far better equipped to deal with this,” Mr. Sacks said. “We have a bunch of top hospitals, we have leadership who are doing the right thing, and top clinicians.”
“The Hamptons is an example of a community that’s not used to having this volume,” said Dara Kass, associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. “The townships are very nervous, because their local hospitals and facilities are not built for people living there full time, they’re not staffed up right now. A lot of these vacation communities people flee to are at capacity.” Traveling also endangers at-risk people these influencers or their families may come into contact with on the way.