'You Are Your Safest Sex Partner': New York City Releases Guide to Safe Sex During COVID-19 Pandemic

Safe Sex
The city's Department of Health is advising residents to “have sex with people close to” them, especially during periods of quarantine and social distancing. After considering masturbation, “the next safest partner is someone you live with.” nd3000/Getty

The New York City Department of Health published guidance for residents on safe-sex practices during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The fact sheet begins with the admonition that "New Yorkers should stay home and minimize contact with others to reduce the spread of COVID-19."

However, there are ways to "enjoy sex" and "avoid spreading" the disease, the guidance acknowledged, instructing that "you are your safest sex partner."

"Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands...with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex," the document, which was removed from the department's website and later reposted, stated.

The Department of Health told Newsweek that its guidance is "updated regularly" and that it "certainly" wants people to know, "Yes, it's ok to have sex."

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The city is advising residents to "have sex with people close to" them, especially during periods of quarantine and social distancing. After considering masturbation, "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 guidance recommends. "You should avoid close contact—including sex—with anyone outside your household."

In addition, residents should consider alternatives to in-person sexual activities, such as "video dates, sexting or chat rooms."

Evidence does not currently suggest that the novel coronavirus can itself be transmitted through sexual intercourse. However, activities that traditionally accompany sex—such as kissing and close contact—are vectors for transmission, doctors say.

As of Friday evening, New York City has 5,683 cases of COVID-19, up around 1,729 from the prior day. However, this represents a deceleration in the rate of the disease's spread in the city. Except for Friday, the number of new cases in New York City had been growing all this week on an exponential scale, doubling each day.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced at a press conference Saturday that his office is proposing to convert the Javits Center, in Manhattan, into several field hospitals to help meet a surge in hospitalizations. He added that the state has performed 45,437 tests—more per capita than were taken by either China or South Korea—resulting in 10,356 positive cases.

"The more tests you take the more positives you find," he cautioned. "The number of new cases is only reflective of the number of cases you are taking."

Fifteen percent of New York's COVID-19 cases are resulting in hospitalizations, "not a bad number" compared with where it had been before, Cuomo said.

On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called his city "the epicenter" of the outbreak.

Updated 4:52 p.m. ET, with comment from the New York City Department of Health.

Updated 6:27 p.m. ET, with additional comment from the New York City Department of Health.

'You Are Your Safest Sex Partner': New York City Releases Guide to Safe Sex During COVID-19 Pandemic | U.S.