Rantz: Seattle Public Health offers COVID hook-up advice, yet scolds you for holiday travel

Dec 7, 2020, 6:55 PM | Updated: Dec 8, 2020, 5:20 am
coronavirus, COVID, seattle public health, coronavirus death, overdose...
Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County, addresses a news conference, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Folks raised some eyebrows over a recently discovered piece of COVID sex advice from Public Health — Seattle & King County, recommending a very specific sex act with a makeshift device or scene. Yet they also warn families against getting together for the holidays. They’re trying to have it both ways.

The advice is posted on Instagram and is presumably meant to reach a younger demographic to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Young people hook up, even during a pandemic, which makes them more susceptible to spreading the virus. If mere droplets can infect someone with COVID, imagine the possibilities during a hook up. Or don’t.

But are critics being hypersensitive prudes or are they right to question tax dollars going to the advice? Is that even what this issue is about? It seems to me this is more a story about hypocrisy.

COVID sex advice that’s supposedly glorious

On the official Public Health — Seattle & King County Instagram account, county workers have posted a series of short videos under the series, “Sex & Dating During COVID-19.”

Each post features videos of text messages between two people who are struggling to be safe during COVID, but also maintain a healthy sex life.

In one video, the advice recommends you engage in cyber sex, with one texter sending their girlfriend or friend-with-benefits, “But there are other ways we could ~connect~” along with a wry emoji. The texter recommends they hop on Zoom for the fun.

One piece of advice caught the attention of a listener to the Dori Monson Show on KIRO Radio, who first reported it. The post, from October, recommended using a specific … strategy … for “creative ways to have safer sex” during COVID.

I’m not allowed to print the specific language depicting the strategy/device, but it doesn’t sound nearly as glorious as proponents at Seattle Public Health insist. They recommend, via the texter in the video, that you “cut a hole in a shower curtain.” They say they’re going to the local Lowe’s and will text back when the scene is set up.


Is this advice appropriate? That’s obviously up to the individual’s sensibilities. It’s not what interests me about this story; have safe sex however you choose to, with or without a shower curtain. I’m more troubled by the hypocrisy.

On the one hand, they warn you to isolate from society and not even travel to see loved ones for Thanksgiving (and upcoming Christmas). They’re not merely saying visit family in as safe a way as possible. They’re explicitly telling you that the “best option is to stay home for the holidays.” And it’s a message delivered with moralizing pearl clutching by public health officials who imply you will literally kill grandma if you leave your home.

Yet on the other hand, they’re also encouraging you to have sex with your partner because, as most reasonable people will acknowledge, folks will do it anyway. This isn’t even practical advice since no one is going to Lowe’s for curtains. You head to Target for bathroom supplies like this. But it’s the correct instinct to acknowledge people, particularly younger ones, will still have sex even during a pandemic.

They might as well be safe while doing it, right? Indeed.

But people were going to travel for Thanksgiving and will for Christmas no matter what end-of-world scenarios local health officials offer. So why not give practical advice on keeping them safe, rather than shaming people into staying home for quality family time if you’re going to offer hook-up advice?

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Rantz: Seattle Public Health offers COVID hook-up advice, yet scolds you for holiday travel