Remember dating? All the excitement and nerves surrounding the first date, and better yet, the first kiss. Getting dressed up to go out on the town was a small luxury we didn't know we had before stay-at-home orders went into effect because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and all social interactions went virtual. But as the country slowly begins to reopen and find a new normal, you might be wondering when it'll be safe to cross the social-distance barrier to kiss on a date again.
While we would love to bring you some good news, POPSUGAR spoke to a few experts, and they didn't exactly give a green light. "Clinicians and researchers have known for a long time that human saliva can harbor bacteria and viruses, and can, therefore, transmit disease from person to person," Dr. Bridget Calhoun, PH, Public Health in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and Associate dean for academic affairs and research, chair, and associate professor in the Rangos School of Health Sciences at Duquesne University, told POPSUGAR. She pointed out that just like other viruses that spread mouth to mouth, COVID-19 can also transmit through kissing.
Despite the weather getting warmer and many states entering the later phases of their reopening plans, the virus is very much still out there. "Even in the states that have taken the most cautious approaches, we expect to see at least a small bump in cases as people start to interact more," Brian Labus, PhD, MPH, REHS, Assistant Professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Nevada Las Vega School of Public Health, explained to POPSUGAR.
If you do decide to go on socially distanced dates and are thinking of locking lips with your partner, Dr. Calhoun recommends asking if they have experienced any known symptoms of COVID-19, like fever, cough, fatigue, decreased sense of smell, or have had contact with anyone who has tested positive. "It would also be helpful to ask about any occupational exposures," she said. "Those working in public transportation, emergency response, and healthcare remain at increased risk."
But Dr. Labus points out that there is nothing you can ask to completely ensure your safety because people who have the virus can be asymptomatic. He also explains that if you reach the point of kissing, you have likely already engaged in some risky behavior, like sitting close to one another or holding hands. "Social distancing is the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus," he says. "That doesn't mix well with dating."
If you happen to break the rules and slip in a kiss, our experts agree there's no need to rush to get tested. However, Dr. Calhoun recommends that if you or your date develop symptoms or are notified by public health officials conducting contact tracing, you should contact your physician so you can get tested.