As COVID-19, or coronavirus, continues to spread through communities around the United States, the CDC has been extremely 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).
Most of the guideline public health experts have already given about washing your hands (for 20 seconds, the correct way), staying home if you’re sick, and keeping a six-foot distance from people who may be sick can be reasonably applied to relations of the intimate variety. But 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?
In a somewhat dystopian development, Tinder recently started advising users to protect themselves against coronavirus as they continue swiping through the epidemic. Right now, since there’s no vaccine or treatment for coronavirus, the CDC lists “social distancing” as a fairly vague way to prevent the spread of the virus, and doesn’t get into any nitty gritty details about whether that means you can keep getting beers with strangers or not.
As with any other human interaction, exercise reasonable caution; if you’ve had a cough, fever, sore throat, or other cold/flu-like symptoms, don’t go on any dates. (This applies always, not just during viral outbreaks!!!) And it feels wise and fair to ask potential dates if they’ve been sick recently, as well. This is, perhaps, even a good litmus test for compatibility; if someone can’t handle you at your coronavirus-panic, they don’t deserve you at your sick hornies.
In a quarantine situation, is it OK to hunker down with my partner, or do I have to be totally alone?
The recommended quarantine period for coronavirus is 14 days, based on what researchers know about incubation periods for illnesses similar to coronavirus. While quarantined people should limit time outside of the home during that time, you don’t need to move out of an apartment you share with a partner, roommates, or family members. But you should try to live mostly in one room, continue to follow hand washing guidelines, and sanitize any surface or objects you share with other people.
If you do end up testing positive for the virus (as testing hopefully becomes more available), it’s not unlikely your partner or anyone you share a home with will also become infected; most cases of the virus appear to be household-spread, rather than community-spread.
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, and telling everyone to wash their hands thoroughly and properly, and to avoid touching their face.
But kissing rules, so rather than avoiding it until the outbreak subsides, be extra-judicious about who you’re kissing. Perhaps avoid making out with anyone who’s recently traveled to or through an area with a high number of cases, or anyone who’s on quarantine and waiting to see if they’re infected. Because symptoms are, again, proving to be quite mild in most young people, you won’t be able to tell whether someone is sick just by looking at them. Asking people if they have reason to suspect they may have come into contact with coronavirus is fair game in these frantic times (but don’t be racist about it).
When in doubt, just think about this chilling quote from the New York Times, which will never leave my brain: “If you can smell what someone had for lunch—garlic, curry, etc.—you are inhaling what they are breathing out, including any virus in their breath.”
Can coronavirus be spread via sex or any genital to genital contact?
Coronaviruses aren’t typically sexually transmissible*, but the WHO said it’s still too soon to tell if that’s true for this particular virus. While we await that info, let us instead treat this as a question of… Should you? 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).
* This is from the New York Times, which may or may not be working with a more expansive definition of "sex." So this may simply mean "genital to genital," even though there are obviously many other kinds of sexual contact.
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.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.