Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has given his blessing to lonely people looking to hook up during the coronavirus pandemic — sort of.
A confused Dr. Fauci was asked about hookups at the tail end of an interview with Snapchat’s “Good Luck America” news program and was forced to give advice on how to handle being particularly lonely — and unwilling to simply stay home — in the age of coronavirus.
“If you’re swiping on a dating app like Tinder, or Bumble or Grindr, and you match with someone that you think is hot, and you’re just kind of like, ‘Maybe it’s fine if this one stranger comes over.’ What do you say to that person?” the host asked Dr. Fauci, apparently channeling the burning questions of Snapchat’s users.
“You know, that’s tough,” Dr. Fauci answered, according to the New York Post. “Because that’s what’s called relative risk.”
He then tried to explain the concept of weighing the satisfaction of a coronavirus lockdown-defying hookup against the possibility of contracting the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 — a disease that, while primarily problematic for the elderly, is plenty risky for those of the age to use social media dating applications.
“If you’re willing to take a risk — and you know, everybody has their own tolerance for risks — you could figure out if you want to meet somebody,” Dr. Fauci replied. “If you want to go a little bit more intimate, well, then that’s your choice regarding a risk.”
The risk of contracting the novel coronavirus through sexual contact is pretty high, at least according to pamphlets distributed by the New York and Oregon departments of health, which go into great detail over how to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19 during a romantic encounter.
While the virus isn’t technically a sexually transmitted disease, it can be transmitted through droplets of saliva, making kissing particularly problematic. The New York and Oregon health departments both suggest that only people who live together should be intimate during the lockdown and that, when it comes to hookups, the best romantic encounters are “socially distant,” and preferably digital.
Dr. Fauci went on to remind Snapchat users that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is particularly sneaky, and that around 40% of people who contract the virus show no symptoms. Hooking up with someone who appears to be feeling well is no guarantee that you’re hooking up with someone who isn’t a carrier for the virus.
“What we’re seeing,’ Dr. Fauci noted, “which becomes really problematic, is that there’s a considerable amount of transmission from an asymptomatic person.”
Intimacy during the coronavirus pandemic has been a hot topic among both advice columnists and governmental agencies in recent weeks, as coronavirus-related lockdowns drag on. Some experts have even suggested that, in addition to shortages of food and toilet paper, the world could be staring down a condom shortage and, come November and December, a significant population boom.
So far, despite his interview with Snapchat, neither Dr. Fauci nor the federal government have made any official proclamations about sexual health in a pandemic.