Local doctors offer tips on how to safely date during the pandemic

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, couples are having to look for new ways to celebrate with that special someone this year.

It can be hard to look for that perfect partner when you’re masked up and socially distant, but some people are getting creative to find love under quarantine.

“Even though COVID has been so crazy, it’s a really good indicator of how people are responding and taking care of themselves. Which really helps you vet your future partner more,” says Jackie Ming, who decided to pick dating back up early this year. “I’ve done a couple FaceTime dates, and that’s a great way to gauge the conversation and really see what that interaction and connection might be.”

Finding that match is a task that’s taken on a much different look for people dating during a pandemic.

“There are single people who want to date, who want to settle down and get to know people. And how do you do that safely in a COVID world?” asks Dr. Joseph Gastaldo from OhioHealth.

For starters, it could mean finding alternatives to the traditional dinner and drinks.

“If you are going to meet them, you want to do it initially with mitigation strategies. Perhaps meeting outside first,” Dr. Gastaldo describes.

For potential partners concerned about crowded spaces, outdoor dates are an approach Ning has already found successful herself.

“I have been going on a lot of hiking dates, which is fun, and is a great way to get some exercise,” Ning admits.

But safe-dating during the pandemic really begins even before that first meet-up.

“I think it really comes up to two people having an honest and transparent conversation with each other about how they live their lives, their beliefs about COVID,” says Dr. Gastaldo.

With their growing popularity, people are even changing how they use dating apps in the COVID world.

“I’ve seen some profiles that say, ‘One thing you should know about me, I’m fully vaccinated,'” Ning says.

For those on a quest for love during quarantine, Ning has a piece of advice.

“Try to manage your expectations and really just have fun,” she encourages.

But before swiping right, health experts warn to keep safety precautions in sight.

“You really want to think about the whole layers of protection that we have available, especially for the first encounter,” Dr. Gastaldo cautions.

Health experts say if two people have been vaccinated, they should wait until 10-14 days after their second dose to loosen restrictions.

Doctors also warn that it is still possible to get the virus even if you have been vaccinated, and while they learn more about possible transmission, daters should continue to follow recommended mitigation strategies.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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