Coronavirus Q&A with a UTHealth expert and Steve Campion

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Concerns, questions and rumors are being sent to ABC13 about COVID-19, and we are doing our best to answer them.

Eyewitness News can report the City of Houston isn't shutting down. Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted about the topic on March 20.

"I have given no order to shutdown the City. If that happens you will hear it from me, the County Judge or the Governor. Short of that, you are hearing rumors. But you should avoid crowds and practice social distancing. st" Turner wrote.

ABC13's Steve Campion also spoke one-on-one with Dr. Michael Chang about the coronavirus. Dr. Chang is an infectious disease specialist at UTHealth.

Here are some questions and answers from their discussion:

Does having a different blood type help prevent COVID-19?

"Not that we're aware of. There's no actual data that's been published on different blood types and risk of disease," said Dr. Chang. "Based on how the virus infects you and how it infects your body, I wouldn't suspect that it would make a difference."

Can you build an immunity to COVID-19 after being infected? Can you be infected again?

"Unfortunately, a lot of my answers are going to be, we don't know for sure," said Dr. Chang. "It is probable that we develop immunity, so once you have it once it seems less likely that you're going to get it. We think we do develop immunity, but we haven't been able to do the right blood tests to really determine if we become immune. More than likely, we develop some type of immunity against getting the infection again."

When do you show symptoms?

"The average time from your exposure to the onset of symptoms is probably 5 days. That's where most patients start to develop symptoms," said Dr. Chang. "We don't actually know how long you're infected. We're going to learn that. As of right now, we can't say for sure how long you're infected."

Why aren't we testing everyone?

"That's a great question. I would answer this question in 2 parts. We're not sure asymptomatic patients are driving the spread. We do know we can detect the virus in patients who don't have symptoms and in patients who have resolved their symptoms," said Dr. Chang. "Unfortunately right now, our testing capabilities are limited. As an infectious disease doctor, I would prefer to test everybody, so we have a better idea of the spread. With kits limited, we're trying to prioritize those patients who may have symptoms. We want to prioritize our limited testing supplies."

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Does Vitamin C help battle the virus?

"There's no evidence Vitamin C will help," said Dr. Chang.

Do Zinc lozenges help prevent COVID-19?

"There's no data to suggest that zinc lozenges will prevent or cure this infection," said Dr. Chang.

Will warm temperatures help kill the virus and prevent the spread?

"I hope so, but we don't know for sure. We do know the virus cannot survive as long in higher temperatures. The best data is from other coronaviruses. They are less able to survive on surfaces when the temperatures are warmer," said Dr. Chang. "The warmer it gets. The less time the virus can stay infectious."

Do masks help prevent the spread?

"If you have symptoms, then yes. If you're coughing and have symptoms, a mask can help protect others," said Dr. Chang. "If you're asymptomatic, the probability that you will contaminate by messing with the mask is higher than any benefit you will get from wearing the mask."

Can COVID-19 become deadlier?

"Viruses, generally when they mutate, they actually, a lot of times, become less dangerous," said Dr. Chang.

Is washing your hands with hot water better than cold water?

"Whether you use hot or cold water doesn't make a difference," said Dr. Chang. He said it is about the scrubbing, soap and time. "At least 20 seconds, sing the alphabet or happy birthday song. I recommend doing it twice."

Can pets spread COVID-19?

"Pets cannot spread COVID-19 as far as we're aware," said Dr. Chang.

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