Stop what you’re doing and pull out your vibrator because the New York City Health Department wants you to masturbate. On March 21, the NYC Health Department released a guide to practicing safe sex amid the coronavirus pandemic, emphasizing that, above all else, you are your own safest sex partner. (Something I could have told you, but I digress.)
"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 statement reads.
This probably isn’t news to all the people currently practicing social distancing, missing their partners, and feeling a little extra horny. According to Psychology Today, pornography usage has spiked over the past few weeks, as folks search for sexy visual stimuli. And on March 17, popular pornography site Pornhub reported an 11.6% steady traffic increase. But that should come as no surprise: Masturbation can also be a way of relieving coronavirus anxiety, in addition to a health precaution.
The NYC Health Department says that the next safest option is sex with a partner who’s been social distancing with you, since having close contact with only a small group of people can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, the statement warns against kissing, along with rimming, since there is evidence the virus can spread via fecal matter. Yes, rimming! What a time to be alive.
You should still, however, avoid having sex with a partner who isn’t feeling well. And the same is true if you or your partner have been exposed to the virus, or have underlying medical conditions.
So, how do New Yorkers feel about the NYC Health Department’s new recommendations? "I don’t need the government to tell me to get off," Ashley, 24, tells Bustle. "I’ve got that part under control."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC or NHS 111 in the UK for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.
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