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GMHC Partners on COVID-19 Prevention Initiative on Fire Island

7.7.2020

Poul Olson I 646-784-2533I PoulO@gmhc.org
Krishna Stone I 917-774-3621 I KrishnaS@gmhc.org

For Immediate Release

July 8th, 2020

GMHC, Daniel Nardicio and the Dworld crew have joined forces with Taylor Shubert to launch a COVID-19 prevention initiative called the Fire Island COVID Destroyers. GMHC volunteers, NYC and Fire Island drag queens and go-go dancers will promote healthy behaviors on Fire Island to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The COVID Destroyers are greeting people at the Fire Island Pines Harbor with hand sanitizer and masks, infiltrate beach parties to encourage social distancing, and educate and remind island visitors about how to protect themselves and others while still having fun.

"Fire Island was an epicenter of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and we learned then that we must take care of our own. We’ve (The Covid Destroyers) decided a positive, helpful approach will do much more than a 'tag em and drag em approach’ and we can hire out of work nightlife performers while doing it," says Daniel Nardicio, Fire Island resident, Club Cumming co-owner and nightlife promoter.

The initiative, borne out of a recent unplanned series of parties, has caused great concern in the LGBTQ community. Drawing on lessons from GMHC’s HIV/AIDS prevention programs, the COVID Destroyers will focus on promoting social distancing and positioning mask-wearing as sexy and fun.

Governor Cuomo’s office has supplied masks and hand sanitizer to be distributed throughout Cherry Grove and the Pines. “We are thrilled to be teaming up with the Governor to promote safety measures” says Taylor Shubert, a member of the Dworld staff. "These queens will show you that being safe is sexy!"

"GMHC was founded in the early ‘80s to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic with an initial focus on preventing and reducing the risk of infection,” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie. “This same approach can be applied to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than shaming people, education and compassion are needed to promote behaviors that can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep people healthy and safe."

Fire Island COVID Destroyers is not a fundraising initiative for GMHC and the agency is not the beneficiary of anyonated funds collected for this project. GMHC staff are volunteering their time and public health expertise for this project. They are not involved in the recruitment, payment, or housing reimbursement of participants in this initiative. No government grants or private grants to GMHC are being used to support Fire Island COVID Destroyers.

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About GMHC (formerly Gay Men's Health Crisis) 
The world's first HIV/AIDS service organization provides comprehensive services to 10,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. Programs include testing, prevention, nutrition, legal, supportive housing, mental health, and substance use services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state, and federal levels with the goal of ending HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit www.gmhc.org