The New York City health department on Thursday issued guidelines detailing how residents should and should not engage in sex amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Most of the city’s nearly 9 million inhabitants, along with the rest of the state, will be under stay-at-home orders starting Sunday evening. But the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggested that was no excuse for unsafe sexual practices.
“You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex,” the guidelines said, referring to the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
The department added: “Disinfect keyboards and touch screens that you share with others (for video chat, for watching pornography or for anything else).”
If New Yorkers must engage in sex with other people, they were urged to “have as few partners as possible” and to choose those partners from among their roommates.
“The next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact — including sex — with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19,” the guidelines said. “You should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside your household.”
Stating the seemingly obvious, the department pooh-poohed having sex, “and especially kissing,” with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or appears to have symptoms.
Addressing sex workers, the department suggested a pause in prostitution, which is still a crime in New York — at least for now.
“If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates,” the guidelines said. “Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you.”
NYC gets anal about coronavirus sex
According to the health department, COVID-19 has not been found in semen or vaginal fluid, and other coronaviruses are not be easily transmitted by sex. But the coronavirus is found in saliva and feces.
With that in mind, the department advised, “Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your small circle of close contacts
The department also warned, “Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter your mouth.”
Apparently assuming not everyone would observe the moratorium on ass play, the guidelines offered, “Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva or feces, especially during oral or anal sex.”
On Twitter, some commentators celebrated the guidelines.
“You are your safest sex partner” — obsessed with NYC’s guide to sex during corona pic.twitter.com/xuKRzD0Jhw
— Chrissy Rutherford (@chrissyford) March 21, 2020
Others mocked them.
The official NYC government guide to having sex during the pandemic is the filthiest document I’ve read in quite some time. https://t.co/HHQAYKg2Pw
— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) March 21, 2020
The partisan reactions were reminiscent of when the New York City Commission on Human Rights last September declared the use of the term “illegal alien” in a derogatory way illegal in certain contexts.
A serious problem
Meanwhile, more than 6,000 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in New York City.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state is sending 1 million N95 respirator masks to the city — short of the 3 million city officials are seeking. He said the state had identified 6,000 ventilators to help sick patients keep breathing, but needed 30,000 more.
“We are literally scouring the globe for medical supplies,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said New York would fine and close businesses that defy the order.
Federal authorities briefly stopped flights arriving at New York City-area airports after a trainee at an air traffic control center tested positive.
Neighboring New Jersey became the latest state on Saturday to adopt a statewide directive requiring residents to remain indoors except for trips to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other “essential businesses.”
Stay-at-home orders now apply to 84 million people in states that account for a third of the nation’s economy. The state directives were for the most part issued without strict enforcement mechanisms to back them up.
At least 32,644 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in the United States and 402 people have died from the COVID-19 as of Saturday evening, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)