A San Francisco nurse who posted photos of himself last May as a warning to others about how COVID-19 had ravaged his body over the course of six weeks in the hospital has attracted negative attention after apparently posting online about attending a gay circuit event in Mexico over the New Year's Eve holiday.
43-year-old registered nurse Mike Schultz made national headlines after posting before and after photos of himself — in one, he's well-muscled and tan, the picture of the fit type of gay man who frequents annual dance events around the world known as circuit parties; in the other, following six weeks of being sedated and on a ventilator at a hospital in Boston, he's gaunt and much thinner, having lost 50 pounds, and he said he was so weak he could barely stand to take the mirror selfie. He was featured on BuzzFeed, CNN, and on SFist, and he spoke about the pneumonia he suffered, brought on by the coronavirus, had perhaps permanently reduced his lung capacity.
Schultz was one of at least 38 gay men believed to have contracted COVID-19 at one of the last circuit parties to occur before the pandemic prompted worldwide lockdowns and the cancellation of most travel. The Winter Party in Miami, which occurred between March 4 and March 10 of last year, was a nationally noted super-spreading event among others that occurred in the weeks leading up to pandemic lockdowns, including Spring Break in Florida and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. But given the fact that COVID cases were already being widely reported by the time the Winter Party Festival occurred, organizers were called out in the gay media especially for not canceling the event — and Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales later told the Miami Herald, after several deaths were linked to the party, that he wished he had decided to shut down the event in retrospect.
Last week, LGBTQ social media lit up with a scandal involving an Instagram account called @GaysOverCovid, which for weeks had been reposting other people's photos and stories and shaming gay men who appeared to be continuing to gather in large groups, mostly maskless, despite surging coronavirus cases in California and elsewhere. The scandal began bubbling over in connection with one New Year's Eve circuit party in particular that had already been shut down by the city of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, just as the region's ICU beds were filling up with COVID cases. Los Angeles-based promoter Jeffrey Sanker, the founder of the White Party in Palm Springs, went ahead with the event after selling thousands of tickets, relocating it to the nearby community of Nuevo Vallarta, and @gaysovercovid went about shaming Eventbrite for continuing to sell tickets to the weekend's events, and shaming various attendees who posted photos of themselves in Mexico — including this ICU nurse from Los Angeles, and others.
Subsequently, a $500 reward was offered for anyone who could "out" the person or persons behind the GaysOverCovid account.
The party — and a schadenfreude moment in which a cocktail cruise boat carrying some attendees capsized on Friday — prompted wide-ranging discussions and debates about whether online shaming was appropriate when many of us have taken mitigated risks to celebrate holidays and escape the isolation that nine months of the pandemic has brought on. But in the case of healthcare workers especially, attending an event like this seems highly questionable, even if masks were ostensibly required for entry, given that the potential for further spreading the virus within the community and beyond is obvious.
Setting aside the fact that Schultz may still have antibodies and therefore immunity to the coronavirus (as a healthcare worker he also may have already received a vaccine dose), it seems irresponsible to publicly boast about going to Puerto Vallarta when public health officials far and wide are warning against travel and large gatherings, and to allegedly repost what you see below, as Instinct Magazine reports, in which another Instagram user calls out "haters" for raining on their fun, and refers to "survival of the fittest" with regard to the New Year's Eve event.
Schultz's Instagram story about heading to Puerto Vallarta, allegedly posted in early December, was screencapped and posted by Twitter user The Blessed Canadian on December 11. SFist can not independently confirm that the post was done by Schultz, but that appears to be him in the photo. His Instagram account, @thebearded_nurse, has been private since last May, because he said he was the victim of cyberbullying at the time.
A story in 3 parts pic.twitter.com/0Kf1ViqPsT— the blessed canadian (@cuntanadien) December 12, 2020
Zack Ford, the press secretary for Alliance for Justice and a self-described queer social justice warrior, posted a thread to Twitter over the weekend about the Puerto Vallarta party/GaysOverCovid scandal. He specifically mentioned Schultz, saying, "Despite his stirring narrative about why we should take COVID seriously, Schultz apparently not only went to the PV party, but endorsed that it was 'survival of the fittest,' and is now trying to help out GaysOverCovid." The gay blog CocktailsandCockTalk subsequently posted about Schultz and the Puerto Vallarta party, saying, "And that’s the thing with these personality types; as much as they dislike being 'cancelled', they like the attention even more. They think posting to their stories that they’re going on holiday during a pandemic makes people envious… it doesn’t."
Despite his stirring narrative about why we should take COVID seriously, Schultz apparently not only went to the PV party, but endorsed that it was "survival of the fittest," and is now trying to help out GaysOverCovid: https://t.co/b1t3u5Ecvo 18/x— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) January 3, 2021
Hey @SutterHealth, this is a nurse named Mike Schultz at your CPMC hospital in San Francisco. If he's back at work today, he's risking the lives of your staff and patients. #gaysovercovid https://t.co/BalQKblZm9— Chris Weidner (@CWNewser) January 4, 2021
We can't confirm whether Schultz actually ended up attending the party, but Instinct Magazine noted that he was apparently back at a circuit event somewhere just a month after leaving the hospital last May.
Hopefully Schultz and everyone else traveling back from Mexico are properly quarantining! And hopefully no one falls ill.