Coronavirus questions answered: Does the virus stick to clothing?

Fox News medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier answered your questions about the coronavirus pandemic on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.

Question: Do we know how well this virus adheres to clothing? Should we wash our clothes upon arriving at home?

In response, Saphier noted that one study shows that  there are viable virus particles on cardboard about 24 hours after being put there by someone else.

“We don’t have data that people are actually being infected by touching inanimate objects that potentially have the virus on them, but let’s just be safe,” she said.

“What I’ve been doing is when we’ve had to go out, as soon as we come into the house, we’re taking off the clothes, we’re putting them in the dirty clothes basket, washing them right away and I’m taking a shower,” she said.

That may be overly cautious, but she reasoned:  “Why not do it right now? If we are all in this together, the best-case scenario is … it is probably all overkill, but let’s do it for now.”

Question: If COVID-19 decreases to a very small number and everyone goes back to work and school, can the remaining small number of infected people start the pandemic all over again?

Saphier said that’s a legitimate concern “because we are going to see many peaks of infection over the next year, especially until we have a vaccine.”

“The bottom line is, we want to get our kids back to school, we want to get people working, but we also want to make sure that the efforts that we’re doing right now aren’t futile,” she said.

She added: “As soon as we get to the point where there are a decreasing number of infections that our health care workers and hospitals can actually manage, then, yes, we’re going to get people back to work. We’re going to get people back to school, and we’re going to have to monitor those numbers very closely.”

“The more cases we have in the ICU, they may have to do another temporary school closure,” she said.

“Luckily we’re heading into the summer months.”

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Question: Could a quicker coronavirus test be one of the keys to flattening the infection curve?

On Saturday, Cepheid, a California molecular diagnostics company, announced it has received emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the first rapid coronavirus diagnostic test, with a detection time of about 45 minutes.

Saphier referenced the development Sunday, hailed it as an important step toward relieving over-stressed health services.

“Right now when we have people coming into the emergency department, coming into hospitals, they’re needing to go into respiratory isolation. … This is very consuming when it comes to resources,” she said. “Everyone has to be in gowns and masks and gloves, and [patients] have to be in their own room.

“This is why we’re seeing such an abundance of overflow in hospitals, because while people are waiting for their results, they’re all having to be in respiratory isolation,” she said. “Sometimes people are waiting for several days before they even get a negative result, and we realize they didn’t even have to be there.”

Saphier said the new rapid test allows for hospitals to focus on people who test positive for the virus.

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“It’s great that the FDA was able to push through their approval for this because we absolutely need this,” she added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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