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Answering your coronavirus questions | Wear the Gown

How long can coronavirus stay on clothes? Will warm weather stop the spread? A University Health System doctor answers these and other questions.

SAN ANTONIO — There are many unknowns surrounding the coronavirus. In tonight's Wear The Gown we ask the experts some of your questions.

For this Wear The Gown we will be speaking with Dr. Jason Bowling, infectious disease physician and the hospital epidemiologist at University Health System.

How long can the coronavirus last on my clothes?

Dr. Bowling: "The virus will last various amounts of time depending on of factors. Heat, sunlight, exposure, type of surface. So if it's clothing it would be a fabric as opposed to a solid surface and then the relative humidity. All those factors really cause different amounts of time that the virus can survive, so anywhere from a few minutes to several hours."

Should I be washing my clothes more often?

 Dr. Bowling: "I wouldn't recommend that people wash their clothes more frequently than they normally would. When laundering your clothes it's important to use the hottest water temperature possible that's allowed for those clothes without causing damage and then drying them completely. Those are important steps in the laundry cycle to make sure you're doing what you can to kill the virus."

How often should I be checking my temperature even if I don't feel sick?

Dr. Bowling: "It's going to be a general recommendation if there is concern. So if you feel like you might've been potentially exposed, which now that we are seeing community transmission, is certainly possible. The general recommendation is twice a day. It doesn't need to be hourly if you do it twice a day about eight hours apart."

I don't have symptoms of the coronavirus. Will I still be somewhat protected if I wear a mask or even if it's a home made mask?

 Dr. Bowling: "The real issue with the masks is that they are worn appropriately, that they are doing hand hygiene, and people are isolating themselves. Those are more effective than a mask alone. There's a lot of variables that go into these masks and how effective they are in protecting people from COVID-19 and so they are not probably the most effective intervention."

What temperature do you consider the threshold to go to the doctor?

 Dr. Bowling: "The temperature that is being used now is a cut off is 100°F. Above that again, you would look for other symptoms as well, but if you are seeing you have a higher temperature, depending on what other medical problems you have, you may want to call your physician. You don't need to go directly to their office but call ahead to ask if you want some guidance."

Does warmer weather mean the virus will go away faster? 

Dr. Bowling: "We are hoping that the warmer weather will decrease the effectiveness of transmission from person to person and we will start to see decreased cases, but there is still that component that people are susceptible, so we need to take all these precautions while we are waiting to see, but we are all hopeful that the warmer weather will at least provide some benefit."

You can submit more written questions for University Health System doctors by texting us at 210-366-2002. For more information about family health call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of Wear The Gown stories, just go to WearTheGown.com.

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