Arielle Charnas denies accusations of faking a coronavirus diagnosis, and also wants to set the record straight after coming under fire over both her family's access to tests and decision to flee New York City despite statewide stay-at-home orders issued due to the pandemic.
On March 18, the 32-year-old influencer and married mother of two announced on Instagram that she learned that morning that she "tested positive for COVID-19." She acknowledged how "lucky" she was to be able to "have had that access" to a test. There is a shortage of them in the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued strict criteria for medical providers to allow a patient to be given one. However, some affluent people, such as NBA players, have been able to obtain tests, namely from private labs.
Charnas lives with her family in New York City, which has the largest number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the United States. Soon after revealing her diagnosis, she posted a photo of herself stretching and smiling in front of a country house in the Hamptons, writing, "Fresh air." Since then, a slew of Instagram users have mostly criticized her over her allegedly privileged access to COVID-19 tests and choice to flee Manhattan with her family instead of self-isolating at their primary home.
"I am not writing this to make excuses and I am not searching for validation; I want to share the truth behind my story and above all else, express my sincerest remorse: I apologize to anyone that I unintentionally harmed in the course of my decision making," Charnas wrote on Instagram on Thursday. "For most of us, March 11 marked the beginning of what would become our painful new normal- headline after headline made the situation more frightening. At that point, I was experiencing the same fear, panic and worry the entire country has been feeling ever since."
"This month, the critics' voices have been very loud, hurtful and largely misinformed," she said. "I've been accused of falsifying my own test results which is unequivocally untrue. I've also been receiving death threats against my entire family including my two young daughters. At this point, all I can do from here is tell you how I came to reach the decisions that are very validly being questions—decisions that were often made behind the curtain of social media—and why I made them in the best interest of my family and my community."
Charnas said that her symptoms began on March 13 and that her husband and their two daughters' nanny also experienced them. She said she reached out to her kids' pediatrician three days later and that she advised to stay away from her children while she had a fever, and that it sounded like she had the flu. She sought a second opinion and another doctor told her she could have coronavirus and was "eligible for both tests through his practice."
"We count ourselves as being incredibly fortunate to have had such prompt access to medical care and understand that is far from the reality for the vast majority of people in this country," she wrote. "I shared this experience with my followers because it's what I always do, and I had, maybe naively, hoped that others would be able to find available testing facilities near them. With my husband, our nanny and me now all sick, there were not yet recommended childcare guidelines to help us figure out how to properly care for our girls."
"Our Nanny, of course, had the choice to return home but decided to quarantine with us as to not potentially infect others," she continued. "She is part of our family and her health is of utmost importance. We would have kept paying her regardless. At the time, children were deemed low-risk for contracting the virus, so I moved forward to best maintain a sense of routine—again, for our girls. I completely acknowledge I made mistakes throughout this process. I was sick and scared, and even with our access to healthcare, there were and continue to be few answers available about the virus."
Charnas said, "We got word on March 19 that I had tested positive for COVID-19."
"My family and I continue to quarantine within our Manhattan home for 14 days from the onset of symptoms on March 13, and did not leave the premises," she wrote. "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. This was still seven days after the CDC's recommended timeline to discontinue home isolation."
"New York City is dense, with the highest number of cases in the U.S., and we felt that it would be safer for us to resume our lives while continuing to quarantine elsewhere," she wrote. "That includes our nanny, who we love dearly and who has been with us every step of the way."
Charnas said the family did not stop for gas along the way, had supplies delivered to their home and always maintained the "appropriate social distance."
"The house we moved into is on a new, largely unoccupied street with little to no car or foot traffic," she wrote. "Besides us, there is only one other family currently residing on the block, whom we let know of our situation (again, while remaining more than six feet apart), so that they could take the proper precautions."
"All around the world, we are learning to adjust to the realities of life during a pandemic, and my family has made the decision to do so in the Hamptons," she wrote. "I know that a lot of New Yorkers have made the decision to do the same, and that this decision has faced legitimate criticisms in its own right."
She added, "I can only speak for my family when I say that our standing concern lies in whether or not we are continuing to put others at risk. We have learned firsthand that what happens after you first test positive for COVID-19, then complete the necessary quarantine, is still unknown. But based on the facts available to us right now, as well as throughout our experience in the last several weeks, I'm confident this was the right move to reduce potential spread. Our care team, who helped us reach this decision, will agree with me."
Charnas said that "in times of crisis, opening up about every aspect of your life is hard" and that "continuing to be honest in light of ongoing disapproval is even harder."
"We are all human. We all make mistakes, including me, especially when a crisis such as this is developing so quickly," she wrote. "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."