Love In The Time of Coronavirus
February 27, 2020 7:19 PM   Subscribe

I’m invited to a ~50 person sex party this weekend, and I’m considering canceling because of COVID-19. Am I being overly cautious?

This may sound like a joke, but it’s a serious question.

To be clear, I know that anytime I go to this type of event, I’m exposed to all sorts of airborne pathogens, plus lots of stuff in saliva. I use condoms and gloves for insertive sex, and still get STIs from time to time. I’m a poly bi cis-male, located in the NYC area, living alone, with decent medical insurance and regular check-ups for sexual health. My instinct is to skip this, but it’s a birthday celebration for a friend, and I would absolutely feel guilty about not showing up.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I feel like at this time, the threat of coronavirus in the US has not reached the point of avoiding large gatherings like this. But also: you live in NYC and your greatest risk of disease spread is going to be shitty but necessary things like subway cars, not fun things like sex parties.
posted by corb at 7:23 PM on February 27, 2020 [15 favorites]

Go, don’t cancel.
posted by nathaole at 7:29 PM on February 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

It’s much more likely you’ll catch the flu at this sex party.
posted by Automocar at 7:34 PM on February 27, 2020 [7 favorites]

I say that if your instinct is to skip it, then skip it. Yes, it's a birthday party, but a birthday party that involves 50 people and sex is presumptively skippable with no hard feelings. Take them to lunch later on or something.

I don't say this because I think there's any real danger, I have no way of knowing. I just feel like a massive sex party is probably only really fun when you're comfortable and if you're not comfortable, then you're not.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:35 PM on February 27, 2020 [9 favorites]

As a person who goes to such parties i worry much more about strep throat. Go if you have a healthy immune systrm.
posted by supermedusa at 8:08 PM on February 27, 2020 [3 favorites]

According to the CDC, there have been exactly TWO cases in the US that have occurred as a result of personal contact (as of a couple days ago), and 14 overall. You are exponentially more likely to pick up a serious STD or any number of other, even non-sexual, diseases from such a close contact gathering, and yet you have attended previous gatherings and you're still fine.

posted by SquidLips at 8:10 PM on February 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

This article about mapping Covid-19 in China, using data from Feb 25, says:
"Hubei has 111 cases per 100,000. Every other region has less than 3 cases per 100,000."

Despite the furor, it looks like the likelihood of catching covid-19 almost anywhere is minuscule.
posted by anadem at 9:45 PM on February 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

Have any of the people at this sex party recently been to China? (or Italy, the Middle East, etc.) Just something to take into consideration if you have any way of knowing or finding out. But yeah doesn't seem like a major concern. Plus the fatality rate is only 3%, and lower for younger people. So you know, even if you get it you probably won't die (not to make light of things)
posted by knownfossils at 10:21 PM on February 27, 2020

I agree with others that the absolute risk to your health from Coronavirus in this setting is low; nonetheless anxiety is real and deserves to be acknowledged.

Is there an option to go, see how you feel, and if you feel uncomfortable (a libido killer) limit yourself to less risky activities, whatever that means for you?

If there will be a poly bi cis-male in attendance who responds, when approached, in sultry tones with something along the lines of "I can't X you today but we can Y whilst we murmur about what we wanna..." then can I have an invite?
posted by Erinaceus europaeus at 11:51 PM on February 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Your risk to exposure to COVID-19, at this point in time, should still be very, very low.

As of data collated on 2/27/2020, 11:53:02 PM, there are 60 known COVID-19 infections in the US, and none diagnosed in NYC.

There is one person in New York who is being tested based on symptoms and travel history, but testing is complicated by poor quality tests offered by the CDC. The FDA has given provisional approval for localities to create their own tests.

A sex party with numerous anonymous partners will almost certainly put you at much greater relative risk of being exposed to HIV-1, HIV-2 (to a lesser extent), and antibiotic-resistant STDs, especially if your prophylactic measures fail.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:24 AM on February 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's going to sound alarmist, and maybe it is - but based on what I heard on NPR yesterday, we (meaning the U.S.) don't have enough testing kits and everyone who is known to be at risk has not been tested. Therefore the number of actual cases in the U.S. might well be higher.

The first COVID-19 case of unknown origin has just been confirmed. The patient did not travel anywhere known to have the virus, and was not exposed to anyone know to be infected.

I am not a doctor or an epidemiologist. As stated above, taking the subway is probably more of a hazard than going to this party.
posted by bunderful at 4:55 AM on February 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Could you show up to say Happy Birthday and maybe bring a small gift but not participate (you could say you have a cold or something)? Hang out for a bit and then leave?
posted by sallybrown at 6:03 AM on February 28, 2020

I would just go, given the current very low risk and the fact that it is a usually a very mild virus for a person your age with mo serious health problems.
posted by mkuhnell at 6:56 AM on February 28, 2020

I would venture that this party is at roughly the same risk level as a wedding banquet or trade show.

I would also add that right now is the one and only chance we have at containing the spread of a new virus by being extra-cautious. This is a singular moment to exercise abundant precaution.

Given that, here are a number of things to consider:
1. Can you catch it?
2. If you catch it, might it make you seriously ill?
3. If you have very mild symptoms, will you be the superspreader to your friends, family, co-commuters, general public?
4. No matter the level of illness, can you handle the medical costs? One guy got charged $3000 just for the test.
5. If you don't catch it, but somebody else at the party does, can you handle the foregone wages and other costs of mandated quarantine?
posted by dum spiro spero at 7:46 AM on February 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Your chances are vanishingly low of getting COVID -19 but it's also valid to decide you don't want to take that chance. But the kicker for me is: I would absolutely feel guilty about not showing up. My advice to you is: don't go to a sex party out of guilt
posted by latkes at 9:17 AM on February 28, 2020 [9 favorites]

I would say it's much less risky than a wedding or a trade show, since presumably folks will be local and not traveling in from a wide area.
posted by mkuhnell at 3:48 PM on February 28, 2020

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