As an update to the below story from a couple of days ago, a JetBlue spokesperson has now confirmed that this former flight attendant has been let go after an investigation, and adds the following:
“We continue to offer our apologies for the frustration and concern this incident has caused and reiterate our confidence in the health protocols Jamaica has put in place.”
You can find the original full story below.
American tests positive for coronavirus in Jamaica, forced to quarantine
Kalina Collier is a 22-year-old JetBlue flight attendant who decided to go on vacation in Jamaica in late January. She arrived in the country on January 28, and was scheduled to depart on February 1.
The US now has a pre-travel coronavirus testing requirement, meaning she had to get tested prior to returning to the US. On January 30 she took a rapid antigen test, and tested positive for coronavirus. An hour later she was given a second rapid antigen test, and tested negative for coronavirus.
At this point she was put into quarantine. Given the conflicting results of the rapid antigen tests, she was given a PCR test on February 2, which is known to be much more accurate. Well, that test also came back positive, so at that point she had to complete a 14-day quarantine (based on the timeline, it sounds like she may have already had coronavirus prior to coming to Jamaica).
During the quarantine, Collier did an Instagram live video in which she explained that she was being treated poorly, was being held against her will in a room, was being separated from her friends and family, etc. She mentioned how she was put in a room and wasn’t given a key for it, as if that’s somehow the equivalent of being held hostage, when in reality that’s a standard policy when quarantining.
While the Ocean Coral Spring Hotel let her stay for free, she wasn’t pleased with the quality of the room (it apparently wasn’t very clean, had just one sheet and one pillow, and didn’t have much art on the wall, so she speculated that maybe these rooms were for swingers… hmmm), and she wasn’t happy that the hotel tried to charge her for room service, since it was an all-inclusive (again, despite the fact that she was having her stay comped).
How did a standard quarantine become a news story?
While I can appreciate that her accommodations may not have been very luxurious, all things considered it sounds to me like she had it pretty good — she wasn’t transfered to a government facility, and her stay was even comped. The woman did get inconsistent test results, which is frustrating, but rapid antigen tests are known to not be terribly accurate. The PCR test is much more reliable, and she did test positive with that.
How do we go from the above situation to a lot of backlash on social media against the hotel and Jamaica, and even hashtags like #FindKalinaCollier and #SaveKalinaCollier?
Well, it would appear that the Instagram live made some people believe she had been abducted or was being held hostage, especially after she went quiet on social media for a few days.
To my knowledge Collier never explicitly said she was being held hostage or abducted, though she did suggest she was being held against her will in the room. Ideally people would be able to read between the lines and not think that her being unhappy about a quarantine is the same as her actually being abducted, but then again, nuance is often lost on the internet. Then again, I’m not sure claiming you’re being held against your will after testing positive for coronavirus is reasonable either…
For that matter, Collier even suggested she didn’t have coronavirus and that this they were out to get her, saying “I’m a &^#@! flight attendant, I work with COVID, and I’ve never had COVID.”
The situation got so bad that police did a wellness check to make sure she was okay, and then later the country tried to get her to issue a statement saying she was okay (to stop the social media outcry), though she refused.
Collier finally returned to the US over the weekend, after her quarantine.
There are lots of potential risks and logistical challenges associated with travel nowadays, especially international travel with testing requirements. If you’re going to travel, you should be prepared for the reality of what could happen in the event you test positive for coronavirus. That’s especially true when you’re in a foreign country.
A flight attendant should know better than most about these risks, and shouldn’t act outraged when forced to quarantine for 14 days after testing positive. Never mind the fact that the hotel comped her additional two week stay, which is downright generous.
It does seem Collier was out of line in her behavior, though it’s clear that some of the people on social media trying to help her may have only made the situation worse, by suggesting that she was somehow missing.
What do you make of this situation?