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Ask The Mayor

Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Q: Should we be concerned about packages or products shipped from China carrying the coronavirus?

A: There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. However, the Centers for Disease Control has answered this question to help alleviate some concerns people may have about products made in China or mailed delivered from the country.

According to the CDC, two other coronaviruses have emerged previously to cause severe illness in people (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV). The virus that causes COVID-19 is more genetically related to SARS-CoV than MERS-CoV, but both are betacoronaviruses with their origins in bats.

In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets.

Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

Q: Can the coronavirus spread through food?

A: Mahalo for your question. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is currently no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food, though, it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated or frozen temperatures. Just remember to keep doing common sense actions throughout the day, including washing your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.

Q: Should I be worried about my pet getting coronavirus? Do I need to be cautious around other people’s pets and animals?

A: Mahalo for your time and question. While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person.

According to the CDC, there is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, the CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals. Remember that you could still get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

For more information and other frequently asked questions on the coronavirus, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

General information and resources can also be found on the County of Maui’s website at www.mauicounty.gov/2370/COVID-19-Coronavirus-Information.

* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at askthemayor@mauicounty.gov, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email mayors.office@mauicounty.gov.

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