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Utah influencer facing backlash after leaving NYC in RV during pandemic, despite orders to self-quarantine

The influencer behind the parenting blog Love Taza says that she left the city with her husband and five children on Friday to head “west,” despite calls in recent days for New York City residents to self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Josh and Naomi Davis speak with the media following their RootsTech keynote address.
Josh and Naomi Davis speak with the media following their RootsTech keynote address.
Morgan Jones

Influencer and parenting blogger Naomi Davis is being criticized on social media for choosing to leave New York City and “drive out west” in an RV with her family, despite calls for New York City residents to self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to BuzzFeed News.

Davis, who is a native of Utah but currently lives in New York City, blogs at Love Taza, where she shares parenting tips, recipes and details of her life with her husband and five children.

On Saturday, Davis shared with her nearly 500,000 Instagram followers that “after two full weeks in the apartment” her family would be traveling “west” in an RV to leave New York City.

View this post on Instagram

***PLEASE LOOK FOR MY UPDATE IN MY COMMENT BELOW. *** If you zoom into this photo in front of that big old white thing (which is the top of an RV Camper), you’ll see our family of seven as little dots just a few moments before driving out of New York City yesterday (Friday). My heart is breaking for what is happening in New York where I live and around the world right now. And after two full weeks in the apartment, we made the family decision to drive out west so we can have a little more space (namely some outdoor space for the kids) for a little while. 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). 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. Hopefully a little change of apartment scenery will be just what we need - for everyone’s physical health, for my headspace which is spiraling lately - and for our kids’ own mental health. This situation is serious everywhere and I am sending my love and prayers to you wherever you are. More on my stories. (and photo from our friends who caught us packing up on the street outside an apartment window and texted us! Thank you so much for this photo, Weinbergs!)

A post shared by Naomi Davis | Love Taza (@taza) on

Almost immediately, many of her followers began to express concern and frustration that her family was choosing to leave the city, which has become a hotbed of the coronavirus, according to BuzzFeed.

Davis wrote that the family left New York on Friday.

On Saturday, a domestic travel advisory was put in place for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut which asked residents to “to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately,” BuzzFeed reported.

“I’m so scared that this decision will influence your followers to do the same,” one follower commented on Davis’ Instagram post, according to Vanity Fair.

The debate has also moved to Twitter, where many people have shared their thoughts on Davis’ decision.

“This kind of behaviour is exactly what fanned the flames of the pandemic in Italy,” wrote one Twitter user. “I can only imagine what it must be like to try to contain 5 kids in an apartment but this is a pretty thoughtless decision.”

“This is specifically what people are asked NOT to do and they’re doing it,” one person tweeted.

“You did what was best for your family. How nice for you,” another Twitter user wrote. “You did not do what was best for your neighbors, community, state or nation.”

Others on Twitter expressed concern about the health of family members in communities to which Davis is planning to travel.

Davis is not the only New Yorker to leave the city in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“A backlash has grown on the outskirts of the New York region as wealthy people flee to summer homes to avoid the densely packed city, which has become the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis,” The New York Times reported last week.

For example, the population of Southampton has gone from 60,000 to 100,000 in just a few weeks as wealthy New Yorkers leave the city for vacation homes, according to Forbes.

Full-time residents of beach towns have expressed frustration with the newcomers, with some local government officials asking the travelers to stay away for now, according to the Times.

“We all love the summer people,” Joseph Mancini, the mayor of Long Beach Township in New Jersey, told the Times. “They drive our economy. But when they come down here now, the services here aren’t geared up for them.”

Dr. Drew Harris, a population health researcher and assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University who spoke to BuzzFeed about Davis’ decision to leave New York City, said that the public has a responsibility to the people around them to do whatever they can to contain the spread of the virus.

“This is no different than when the rich left the cities to the poor folks during the plague,” Harris told BuzzFeed. “We need to remember we’re all in this together and promote policies that protect everyone.”

Davis has since responded to the backlash through Instagram Stories, as well as a comment on her original Instagram post.

“I don’t know if it helps, but I am trying to do my best,” Davis wrote in a comment on Instagram on Monday. “Just know that I was trying to be careful and trying to take care of my kids and my family. And I am going to keep taking this seriously and am going to keep trying to be careful in the coming days and months.”