Facebook’s iterations of the share bore the NYC Health logo, but typically linked to a Google Docs PDF with no clear attribution. That document was unassumingly titled “covid-sex-guidance.pdf,” and it began by urging all New York City residents to stay home in an effort to reduce the spread of highly infectious coronavirus strain COVID-19.
Immediately thereafter, it addressed whether it was safe to have sex at all while coronavirus was spreading:
Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
All New Yorkers should stay home and minimize contact with others to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
But can you have sex?
Here are some tips for how to enjoy sex and to avoid spreading COVID-19.
1. Know how COVID-19 spreads.
• You can get COVID-19 from a person who has it.
o The virus can spread to people who are within about 6 feet of a person with
COVID-19 when that person coughs or sneezes.
o The virus can spread through direct contact with their saliva or mucus.
• We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex.
o COVID-19 has been found in feces of people who are infected with the virus.
o COVID-19 has not yet been found in semen or vaginal fluid.
o We know that other coronaviruses do not efficiently transmit through sex.
Amorous New York City residents were first advised to understand how coronavirus COVID-19 spreads, and detailed how as of March 2020 — still in the first weeks of a global pandemic — comparatively little is still known about about SARS-nCoV-2. In the document’s second point, it went on to provide perhaps the most discussed of all the advice on the page (emphasis ours):
2. Have sex with people close to you.
• 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 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.
• You should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside your household.
If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible and avoid group sex.
• If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider
taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options
City residents were, to put it bluntly, advised to stay home and masturbate. However, if that wasn’t sufficiently stimulating, household members were deemed the safest option with whom to have sex.
Group sex was, perhaps predictably, not recommended during the pandemic.
While Facebook shares linked to a Google Docs page, tweets about the NYC guidelines for safe sex and COVID-19 tended to be in screenshot form. It was uncommon to see anything with a direct link back to an official, verified NYC.gov account. We checked the official NYC Department of Health Facebook page and did not see the COVID-19 sex guidelines shared there.
Twitter was another story, though:
In addition to a link to a NYC.gov page, the tweet read:
Since we’re all staying home, you might be wondering what to do with all that extra time. We got you, NYC. ????
Read our guide on how to enjoy sex and avoid spreading #COVID19: https://on.nyc.gov/3agKh8U
Linked was the same circulating document [PDF], with “covid-sex-guidance.pdf” and “Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” as titles. The officially issued guidance matched the aforementioned screengrabs and documents, right down to “you are your safest sex partner” and “masturbation will not spread COVID-19.” The circulating document is authentic — despite the fact it s spreading primarily via screenshots or an unattributed Google Docs page.