NEW YORK — Leala Grindstaff has the coronavirus and she's also gone viral — in the technological sense: by posting a video on TikTok about her experience in quarantine, at government expense, in the city's hotel isolation program.
The TikTok. the first of several, has been liked more than 20,000 times.
"I immediately called the hotel program because I live in a four-bedroom apartment with three roommates," she said.
She's staying at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel, and said overall the experience has been pretty good. A car brought her from her apartment in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan. She checked in for 10 days. Nurses take her temperature twice a day, and three meals a day are delivered to her room.
"White cheddar popcorn, pasta salad with sausage, and that turned out to be pita bread and the little thing of hummus as well, it was pretty good," she said in the TikTok, showing her lunch.
Grindstaff, who is 25, said her only symptom was fatigue, so she spent a lot of time in bed at first, but then needed ways to pass the time besides watching TV.
She decided to make the TikTok to let people know what the experience was like, and urge others with COVID-19 to take part in the free service.
"They're like, 'Oh, I don't know. How would I eat, or how would I be taken care of if I had a medical emergency or something like that?'" Grindstaff said. "And I wanted people to know that the nurses are here for you 24/7. There's a table, the nurse table on this side of the hallway right outside my door."
The city's Test & Trace Corps said its "Take Care" program has put up more than 6,200 people in local hotels since June.
Grindstaff has been posting updates on TikTok throughout her stay, including:
"I'm currently sitting here waiting to have an interview with NY1..."
She said she didn't expect the reception she got.
"I am so bad at TikTok, I know nothing about it, so I was just kind of shocked that anything took off that much, and especially like it's interesting with a viral audience like the reach, so I had people in different states in different countries asking questions," she said.
Grindstaff got her all clear Friday, packed up, and headed home.
While she goes back to work as a barista on Tuesday, she said she may just keep making TikToks, too.
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