Counting On star Joy Anna Duggar is being slammed as ‘reckless and stupid’ for taking her six-week-old daughter to church in Arkansas, where COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
Joy, 22, and her husband Austin Forsyth, 26, just welcomed their daughter Evelyn Mae on August 21 — but while many parents try to limit their newborns’ exposure to germs even in the best of times, Joy and Austin already took little Evy to church on Sunday in the midst of a pandemic.
Commenters were quick to slam the couple for ‘taking their chances’ with their baby’s health, calling them out for being ‘irresponsible,’ ‘risky,’ and ‘disgusting.’
Many people have taken to attending church online through virtual services, but Joy, Austin, Evy Mae, and two-year-old Gideon got dressed up to attend services in person this weekend.
Joy shared photos of the outing on Instagram, showing her holding Gideon by the hand and cradling Evy in a pink blanket.
‘Church this morning!’ she wrote with a heart emoji.
Most of the comments from fans were positive, but a few gentle criticisms popped up on her page from people who asked where their masks were.
‘We are still doing church livestream. Too many people who aren’t wearing masks,’ wrote one.
‘I hope it’s a small group and you all are wearing masks,’ said another.
Over on Reddit, the criticism has been a bit more harsh, calling Joy and Austin ‘incredibly irresponsible, ‘risky and reckless,’ and ‘a Darwin award waiting to happen.’
‘One would think or hope she would want to protect her newborn in every way possible,’ wrote one. ‘I mean, c’mon, if a newborn catches covid that could be really, really tragic. I am appalled that they would do something so risky, it’s disgusting.’
‘I wouldn’t take a newborn that young around that many people in normal times – let alone in the middle of a pandemic,’ said another.
‘I don’t get it. There’s plenty of church being streamed online. They also have a large family cohort that they can hang out with, so there’s little risk of being bored, lonely, isolated, etc. For me, the risk wouldn’t be worth it,’ said a third.
Arkansas, where the Forsyths live, had 488 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. Just three days before, on October 1, it recorded its third-highest number of cases in a single day: 1,125. Overall, September saw the most new cases for the state.
But the couple’s lax attitude about virus precautions doesn’t come as a surprise to followers.
In early July, Joy Anna celebrated her impending arrival with a large baby shower that was indoors and mask-free.
The party appears to have included a rather large group given that the country is in the middle of a pandemic, with everyone gathered together indoors without masks or social distancing.
In fact, at least 21 people were present, and masks weren’t pictured in posed or candid shots.
Photographed at the festivities is Joy Anna’s mom Michelle, as well as her sisters Jana, Jessa, Johanna, Jennifer, Jordyn, and Josie. Her big sister Jill was also notably in attendance, as were sisters-in-law Lauren and Anna. Anna bringing along daughters Meredith, Mackynzie, and baby Maryella, and Lauren toting her baby, Bella.
Also there was Joy Anna’s longtime friend and fellow reality star Carlin Bates, who had her own first child earlier this year.
Joy Anna didn’t respond to criticism over a lack of social distancing at the time, nor has she addressed concerns over her recent church outing.
Little Evelyn May only just came into the world on August 21.
‘To say my heart is full is an understatement,’ Joy wrote on Instagram after Evy’s birth. ‘We have been dreaming of this day and are so happy to announce that our baby girl arrived August 21st at 2:12pm weighing 8lbs 5oz and is 19.5” long!’
‘She has the best personality, is easy going, and loves to be held!’ Joy Anna wrote.
‘She has her nights and days mixed up, but honestly, I love it! Getting to spend that quiet, quality time with her through the night has been SO special!’
‘I wanted her name to be perfect and elegant!’ she added a few days later. ‘We had a hard time deciding but after a few days finally settled on “Evy Mae” and we think it fits her perfectly!’
The new baby’s arrival comes almost 14 months after Joy miscarried at 20 weeks in July of 2019.
‘We only had her for 20 weeks, Life is fragile and precious,’ the couple wrote on Instagram at the time. ‘So thankful the Lord gave her to us for that short time! She will be in our hearts forever!’
‘Although we don’t understand why, God has given us unexplainable peace and comfort during this very difficult time. Yes, it still hurts and we have cried countless tears, but we know that we can trust the Lord.
‘We don’t grieve as those who have no hope because we trust that we will see this little one again,’ they wrote. ‘Please pray for continued healing, not only physically but for our hearts as well.’
The young parents named the baby Annabelle, and went on to bury her at Austin’s family’s camp in Combs, Arkansas.
Four months later, they conceived again, but waited until March to announce it to the public.
While they appeared on the latest season of TLC’s Counting On, the couple has documented most of their milestones this year on their own YouTube channel.
In one of the videos from Evy Mae’s birth, Joy Anna expresses relief over getting an epidural.
‘I’m so happy I got the epidural… I don’t see how people do this without epidurals.’ she told her sister-in-law, who was there as a doula.
‘You did it with the last one!’ her sister-in-law replied.
‘I know… stupid,’ Joy Anna replied. ‘I don’t know how I did it with Gideon. It hurts so bad.’
It was bad enough that she joked to Austin, ‘Babe, we’re not having another kid.’
After over an hour of pushing and with a final moan from Joy, the baby was born.
‘The baby was posterior (sunny side up), so that explains why Joy had such terrible back labor and why she had to push so long!’ reads the video caption. ‘So thankful that Mom and Baby are doing good!!!’
While their ‘birth plan didn’t go as expected,’ Joy said that she ‘loved it.’
‘I only have one regret… I was so stressed about going into the hospital and how the birth was going to go, that I lost site of the excitement of meeting our baby girl!’ she said.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Carly Stern