Update 4/3/2020: This piece has been updated throughout with information responsive to the state of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.
As COVID-19, or coronavirus, continues to spread through communities around the United States, the CDC has been proactive in issuing all sorts of guidance for not getting sick. The organization has addressed a lot of concerns—travel, pets, pregnancy, personal protective equipment—thus far, but the good scientist prudes at the CDC have yet to wade into one crucial aspect of human life: sex (and making out).
At this point in the United States, the only truly safe and quarantine-acceptable sex partners are youself, and any live-in partners. (Though, if you’re sick, health experts advise isolating to separate rooms because coronavirus is most commonly spread via household transmission.) Still, you might be left with pressing questions: Is it necessary to put the kibosh on kissing? Is this virus sexually transmitted? And if you can’t put your grubby little hands on your faces, where else can’t you put them???
Luckily, we’re not too proud to answer the burning, horny questions amidst a global outbreak; here’s everything you’d like to know about Love in the Time of Coronavirus.
Is it reasonable or necessary to take a break from dating?
Zoom dates are fine, but meeting up in public—even six-feet apart—is not. The guidance to stay six feet away from other people is really meant to keep you safe when it’s absolutely necessary to leave your home; it’s not some magic number that protects everyone from getting coronavirus.
Is it OK to hunker down with my partner in quarantine, or do I have to be totally alone?
If you already live together, yes, of course. But if one or both of you starts showing symptoms of coronavirus, you should isolate to separate rooms as much as possible, and clean any shared spaces (like the kitchen and bathroom) regularly.
If your partner lives somewhere else and you want to lockdown together, you should probably already be settled in at one of your apartments, and you should stay there until public officials lift restrictions on movement. Quarantining together means staying put, so no going back and forth between apartments, and no going home for a few days for alone time and coming back. So should you decide to hunker down together, make sure you’re in it for the long haul, or else you risk the unfortunate and needlessly stressful situation of a quarantine breakup.
Can coronavirus be spread via kissing?
Multiple experts told the New York Times they believe kissing could “definitely spread” coronavirus. Which makes sense, considering it’s mainly spread through respiratory droplets that come out of your mouth when you speak and/or cough. That’s why public health experts have been advising to keep a six-foot perimeter when you absolutely have to go out in public, telling everyone to wash their hands thoroughly and properly, and to avoid touching their face.
If you have a live-in partner (or recently acquired one, via starting to have sex with your roommate), kissing is fine, unless someone starts displaying symptoms. Kissing new people is off the table for now. This is sad, because kissing rules. But it will be there waiting for us when this is all over, and the way to make sure this ends sooner rather than later is by following social distancing rules to a tee.
Can coronavirus be spread via sex or any genital to genital contact?
A panel of doctors recently told The Guardian that there “is no evidence that the Covid-19 can be transmitted via either vaginal or anal intercourse.” But kissing, one scientist points out, is a common part of sex, and certainly transmits the virus. Even if you master one of the many ways to have sex without putting your germy face near another person’s germy face (thank you, Health.com), the virus can be spread via “talking face-to-face.” Getting close enough to manage fucking without talking face to face seems challenging (though admittedly not impossible).
Yeah, but what if I clean my junk with hand sanitizer first?
Never do this! If you’ve been washing your hands more lately, per the CDC guidelines, you’ve likely noticed they may be a bit drier than normal. Not only will the same happen to your genitals, but the first ingredient in sanitizer—isopropyl alcohol—isn’t safe for internal use, and may cause burning and irritation. Mild, unscented soaps, always.
Can coronavirus be spread via butt stuff?
Very much so! Researchers think the reason the virus has spread so quickly is that it can be transmitted via the feces of infected people. Experts believe the fecal-oral route (which is why proper hand washing and keeping your hands off your face are so crucial!!!!!) is what caused coronavirus to infect so many people on that cruise ship. You should always be using condoms or dental dams, and be mindful about hand washing pre- and post-butt stuff, but in these coronavirus times, it’s worth being extra careful.
I know I’m not supposed to touch my face, but can I still masturbate?
Again, experts don’t yet know if this coronavirus can be spread via sexual contact. But just like always, you should still be washing your hands thoroughly before and after touching your nethers (or someone else’s).
OK, but what about my sex toys?
Just like you should be washing our hands this way all the time, you should all be washing your sex toys thoroughly, all the time. “You do need to wash it every time, even if it's just been used by yourself, because there are definitely places on the body where microorganisms can be naturally present,” Kelly A. Reynolds, a public health educator and department chair of community, environment, and policy at the University of Arizona, previously told VICE. This does not mean you should take Purell to your vibrators (and, in fact, don’t do that); simply wash your toys in warm water with regular, unscented soap and dry them with a clean paper towel. These good practices help prevent fungal and bacterial infections, plus STIs for shared toys, but consider them good coronavirus protection, too.
Is there coronavirus porn?
We’ll update this post if any details change, but in the meantime, stay safe out there, friends.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Hannah Smothers on Twitter.