SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Health officials urged Californians to protect their loved ones from the coronavirus by celebrating Valentine’s Day virtually this year.
“Have a heart, stay apart,” the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services tweeted Saturday with an illustration of a man and woman toasting the holiday over a video conferencing.
San Francisco public health officials took a more direct approach by updating a six -page tip sheet this week on how to have sex as safely as possible during the pandemic.
While stressing that people should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside their household, the city’s public health department told the San Francisco Chronicle it was updating guidance it first issued last year “to reflect the latest science on COVID-19.”
“When it comes to COVID-19 risk, outdoors is MUCH better than indoors, and large, well-ventilated spaces are better than enclosed, small, poorly ventilated ones,” one tip says.
Another tip in the document is: “It seems obvious, but the fewer people, the better.”
Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at University of California, San Francisco, told the newspaper she thought the guidelines’ specificity may actually cause more confusion than benefit.
“It’s getting into ludicrous territory when you overprescribe like this,” she said. “I think we have to trust the public with again, knowing about core things ... and let (them) decide for themselves how they will be conducting such personal things such as their sex lives.”
She said by this point in the pandemic, people should be continually reminded of the simple core messaging: masks, ventilation, and social distancing.
California is emerging from its worst stage of the pandemic. New virus cases and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically in the past three weeks, and deaths that topped 3,500 a week also have started to decline, though more slowly.
The state reported 9,421 new cases on Saturday, along with 9,414 people hospitalized with COVID-19 — numbers that have fallen dramatically in the past three weeks. And the number of deaths that topped 3,500 a week have started to decline, though more slowly.
California this week edged past New York in the grim statistic of the number of deaths due to COVID-19. California’s death toll has reached over 46,435. New York has seen 45,751 deaths.
California has administered nearly 5.8 million vaccine doses to date. The state opened many mass vaccination centers in the last several weeks but they aren’t operating close to full capacity because of vaccine shortages.