An influencer, her husband, and their 5 kids broke quarantine to flee NYC in an RV. A wave of backlash followed.

ktenbarge@businessinsider.com (Kat Tenbarge)

Naomi Davis let her nearly half a million Instagram followers know that she and her family were leaving New York City a day before the CDC issued a domestic travel ban.

Screenshot Instagram/@taza

  • A parenting blogger with nearly half a million Instagram followers sparked a wave a backlash when she posted that she, her husband, and her 5 kids were choosing to leave New York City in an RV amid the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Despite leaving a day before the CDC issued its domestic travel advisory asking New York residents to stay put, Naomi Davis' explanation for fleeing the city was met with hundreds of negative comments.
  • "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," she captioned her announcement.
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After two weeks spent quarantined in their Upper West Side apartment, an Insta-famous family of seven decided to flee the city and take an RV out west. Naomi Davis, who goes by "@taza" on Instagram and has more than 465,000 followers, posted this decision in full to her account, alongside a photo of her, her husband, and their five kids.

"My heart is breaking for what is happening in New York where I live and around the world right now," Davis wrote. "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."

The backlash was immediate, and additional media coverage of the post turned hundreds of angry comments into thousands. Davis has since restricted comments on the post, and there are a few people offering support, but the overwhelming majority of responders are shocked and horrified by the decision. 

Davis' rationalizations for leaving New York have been met with criticism from commentators and public health experts alike

"While I recognize the importance of supporting one another during times such as this one, your decision to leave literally THE largest hotspot [sic] in the United States is putting many other people at risk," reads one comment with nearly 4,000 likes. "If everyone makes the decision to leave New York City, other states' healthcare systems are quickly going to be overburdened by the number of cases, just as New York's is now."

Davis specified in the post that she and her family chose the RV "to avoid hotels and people," but public health experts interviewed by BuzzFeed News echoed the disapproving comments, calling the decision "highly irresponsible."

A day after Davis wrote that she and her family left, the CDC issued a domestic travel advisory that asks residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential travel for 14 days.

"Potentially spreading covid further by traveling is not brave," another comment with more than 3,300 likes says. "I fully understand the decision, but it's not brave."

After two days, Davis left an update on her post in the comments section, which further summarizes her decision-making and justifies the family's move by saying "We are NOT like some people who ignored advice while in New York and then traveled in crowded public spaces to somewhere with fewer restrictions so they could pretend like this new Coronavirus isn't happening."


Davis left an update in the comment section of her post, but the responses to her update are still predominantly negative.

Screenshot Instagram/@taza

She also says that her family gathered supplies ahead of their exit from the city so that they wouldn't have to stop and acquire them, and reiterated that they would "eat, sleep, and spend all our time" in the RV on the way to a home they are planning to quarantine in somewhere "out west."

"During our next phase of quarantine I want you to know we will not be going out, not to stores, or parks, or even around the block," Davis wrote in the update. "We have friends who have been kind enough to stock the home where we will be staying and prep it for us."

The update didn't impress most of the people who continued to comment on Davis' own comment, with one person writing "You are not being 'ripped' apart for a decision you made. You're being held accountable for a decision you made in your own self interest [sic] in mind and disregard for others. Every single piece of advice from the CDC/WHO said to stay home. Yes, you're held to a higher standard because you influence half a million people and ultimately you displayed negligence for others."

Davis didn't respond to Insider's request for comment.

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