Survey: Over 90 percent in US say they're dating as normal despite coronavirus
© OkCupid

The dating app OkCupid says 88 percent of users are still dating as usual amid the spread of coronavirus, according to a survey of global users released to The Hill on Tuesday. That includes 92 percent of users in the U.S.

Popular dating apps are being forced to wrestle with the impact of the novel coronavirus due to health concerns about interacting with other people. The virus is thought to spread between people who are in close contact with one another, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). U.S. health officials have been substituting bumping elbows or bowing rather than shaking hands as a greeting, for example.

The survey suggests that despite warnings to prevent the spread of the disease COVID-19 by maintaining social distance, dating app users are attempting to maintain regular daily routines.

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In the U.S., OkCupid users in Seattle were slightly less willing to keep going out on dates, with 86 percent saying they are still willing compared to the national average of 92 percent. More than 20 people have died in Washington state since the outbreak began. The University of Washington has canceled in-person classes, people are being urged to telecommute and far fewer people are setting up coffee dates, according to The New York Times.

Ninety-one percent of users in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are still willing to go out on dates, OkCupid said. In places like Denver, where the governor declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after announcing 15 presumed cases in the state, 97 percent of respondents say they are still willing to go out on dates.

Italy, which is nearly shut down due to the outbreak, is the only country surveyed where less than half of OkCupid users said they're dating as usual. The dating app said 45 percent of users said they're still dating.

There are not enough OkCupid users in China, where the outbreak began in Wuhan, to provide a meaningful response to the survey.

OkCupid reported a spike in users overall talking about coronavirus, as well, suggesting the health emergency is sparking plenty of interpersonal conversations. There was a 188 percent increase in coronavirus mentions on OkCupid profiles between January and February, the dating app said, with people referring to the topic in response to prompts including "I spend a lot of my time thinking about" and "My favorite conspiracy theory."

Tinder, another dating app, last week began providing a warning to users about taking precautions for coronavirus. Several other popular dating apps either had no plans to do the same or did not respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

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"Tinder is a great place to meet new people. While we want you to continue to have fun, protecting yourself from the coronavirus is more important," reads the Tinder ad, which appears randomly to users.

Among other CDC recommendations like hand washing, the Tinder ad recommends that users "maintain social distance," which confused some users.

However, OkCupid's data indicates that dating and avoiding other people might not be mutually exclusive, finding that even users who are staying home are using dating apps to connect remotely.

The app has seen a 7 percent increase in new conversations over the last five days.