Governor Albert Bryan Jr. establishes a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force led by Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion and comprising Cabinet members, agency officials, and disease specialists.
Governor Bryan declares a state of emergency for the United States Virgin Islands. Among other actions, the declaration places a moratorium on permits for mass gatherings and cancels the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day parade on St. Croix.
On the authority granted to him under the state of emergency, the Governor announces he is closing all public schools through April 14. On the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virgin Islands Department of Health, the Governor also bans gatherings of more than 50 people and postpones the USVI Carnival.
The Governor directs commissioners and directors to implement different telework, flexible work schedules, and social distancing practices until further notice.
During a press conference to update residents on the territory’s response to COVID-19, the Governor cites CDC guidelines and asks residents to restrict gatherings to 10 persons and practice social distancing. He also asks bars and restaurants to limit service to take-out and pick-up and asks non-essential businesses to limit operations.
The Governor sends proposed legislation down to the V.I. Legislature requesting emergency authorization to use public funds and issue bonds and revenue anticipation notes for up to $60 million to fight COVID-19 in the USVI.
The Governor issues a “stay-at-home” order and orders all non-essential businesses to remain closed, beginning March 25, 2020. The order also officially limits gatherings to 10 persons or fewer, closes all bars, prohibits restaurants from offering dining room service, and limits taxis and safaris to half-capacity passenger loads. The order also limits the Government of the Virgin Islands to non-essential operations, suspends all landlord requests for rent and/or evictions, and allows Government employee retirees to re-enter the workforce with having to sacrifice their retirement benefits.
The Virgin Islands Department of Education announces it will begin distributing breakfast and lunch on March 26 to students attending all public, private and parochial schools in its “No V.I. Child Goes Hungry” feeding initiative.
Government of the Virgin Islands agencies and departments change their operations to suspend in-person services, and instead direct residents to their websites to keep Government obligations and services active.
During a press conference to update residents on the USVI’s response to the COVID-19 Virus, Governor Bryan announces that 12 pallets of medical supplies related to COVID-19 containment have arrived in the territory and says more are on the way. He also says the number of cases of COVID-19 in the Territory has risen to 30; however, about two-thirds of the samples test negative for the virus.
Governor Bryan and First Lady Yolanda Bryan host a “Day of Prayer, Fasting, and Reflection,” with more than two dozen clergy involved and 5-minute prayers broadcast on radio stations throughout the territory every hour for 24 hours.
Governor Bryan issues a third executive order that extends the stay-at-home directive and the closure of non-essential businesses to April 30. Additionally, the new order requires closure of beach restaurants.
The Governor announces that the territory received testing materials to do the tests locally and be able to have the results back in 24 hours or less. He also announces a second shipment of medical supplies arrived.
The Law Enforcement Planning Commission announces $2.9 million in Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding that is earmarked for supporting first responders with equipment and other needs, as well as provide health care for inmates at the Bureau of Corrections.
Governor Bryan urges local business owners to take advantage of the U.S. Small Business Association’s “Paycheck Protection Program,” which will provide loans to businesses so they can keep their employees on the payroll.
The V.I. Health Department announces the territory’s first death from COVID-19: an 85-year-old male St. Thomas resident with underlying medical conditions who unknowingly came into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case that traveled to the island from Anguilla.
Government of the Virgin Islands agencies and departments continue adjusting their operations to provide vital services to residents of the territory.
The Governor updates residents on the efforts of his Marine Task Force, an appointed group of stakeholders from the Marine industry, to track all boats moored in Territorial waters. The number of boaters moored in the USVI has increased dramatically as people try to flee COVID-19 in other jurisdictions.
Governor Bryan announces that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs has given the U.S. Virgin Islands $7,863,776 in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act federal COVID-19 stimulus bill.
The Federal Aviation Administration awards the U.S. Virgin Islands $41,145,247 to maintain the territory’s airports as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act federal stimulus bill.
Governor Bryan announces that the Government of the Virgin Islands will subsidize ratepayers of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority by providing credits to their accounts of $250 for individuals and $500 for businesses.
Governor Bryan sends a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer requesting additional federal assistance to help offset the devastating loss of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Tourism industry.
During a press conference, the Governor addresses the transportation issues facing disabled and elderly residents and says he is considering using the VITRAN public bus system, which has suspended services, and enlisting private taxi services to help those residents run their daily errands. The Governor also announces the second fatality in the Territory from COVID-19: 72-year-old St. Thomas woman with a history of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
During his COVID-19 update to the public, Governor Bryan announces the third death from COVID-19, a 77-year-old man from St. Croix with an underlying history of health issues and who had recently traveled from Florida.
The Office of Management and Budget institutes the state-of-the-art grants management system eCivis across all agencies and departments in the Government of the Virgin Islands. The system tracks grants from inception to payout and closure.
Governor Bryan announces that his Administration received $75 million from the federal CARES Act, which will allow for the Government of the Virgin Islands to provide a subsidy for V.I. Water and Power Authority ratepayers, assist the passenger ferry operators, which have cut back their passenger loads for social distancing, and to offer transportation assistance for disabled and elderly residents.
Governor Bryan announces that his Administration is pursuing several avenues to provide additional health care staffing and is in final negotiations with Doctors Without Borders, the Islamic Medical Association and other programs to bring physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, infection specialists and others to bolster our team
Governor Bryan’s Administration continues to stockpile resources and supplies to fight the spread of the virus, and the territory is awaiting the delivery of additional ventilators Personal Protective Equipment, including overalls, face-shields, 60,000 regular masks and 50,000 N-95 masks.
Governor Bryan formally announces the YES Program (Your Energy Stimulus) for customers of the V.I. Water and Power Authority, which will provide a $250 credit to each residential account and a $500 credit for each commercial account.
Governor Bryan announces the territory’s fourth fatality from COVID-19, a 67-year-old St. Croix woman who died in her home and had not been hospitalized and tested positive for the virus after her death.
Virgin Islands business owners resume applying for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers businesses loans that will be forgiven if the company keeps all employees on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for rent, mortgage interest or utilities. To date, 240 Virgin Islands businesses have received more than $62 million under the PPP.
In observance of the hard work and dedication of the front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Bryan issues an executive order approving administrative leave for non-essential government employees to commemorate Carnival on St. Thomas, which was cancelled this year because of the coronavirus outbreak
Governor Bryan begins implementing a sixth supplemental executive order that outlines the conditions regulating the territory’s anticipated move to the next phase – called “Safer at Home” – of reopening the territory’s economy. The “Safer At Home” order will become effective on May 4 and be used as the guidelines for reopening the territory’s non-essential businesses.
The U.S. Virgin Islands reaches the milestone of having 1 percent of its residents tested for COVID-19.
The Government of the Virgin Islands receives $84.7 million from the Internal Revenue Service and begins the rollout of federal stimulus checks to eligible residents.
Governor Bryan announces the death of the territory’s fifth COVID-19 patient: The 72-year-old husband of the 67-year-old St. Croix woman who died in her home and had not been hospitalized.
During his COVID-19 update to residents, Governor Bryan says the territory has received the money from the IRS for residents’ stimulus checks, which will begin rolling out the following week.
Governor Bryan also announces he is easing of some conditions of the “Safer at Home” reopening phase and will allow hotels to book reservations for local residents and business travelers and dive shops, day sails and other excursions will be allowed to reopen.
The 33rd Legislature unanimously approves Governor Bryan’s request for a 60-day extension to the State of Emergency, which moves the expiration date to July 12.
The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the Virgin Islands Department of Labor a $1.5 million National Dislocated Worker Grant to provide disaster-relief employment, along with employment training and service. The grant is funded under the federal CARES Act, which provided $345 million for Dislocated Worker Grants to help address workforce-related impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Albert Bryan’s COVID-19 task force, led by Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, announces that it is working closely with Limetree Bay Terminals to enforce protocols in place to ensure new contract workers and contract workers returning to St. Croix from the U.S. Mainland are adequately screened and monitored for COVID-19. The protocols set for returning contractors include a pre-approval for travel by Limetree and a requirement to provide the Department of Health with their on-island address and flight itinerary prior to arrival.
Governor Bryan’s COVID-19 Task Force announces that an individual suffering respiratory distress aboard a vessel at sea is one of the territory’s latest COVID positive patients. The individual, who is brought to St. Thomas and immediately placed under quarantine at Schneider Regional Medical Center in critical condition was admitted after the vessel that individual was aboard was denied entry into Puerto Rico.
The Territory receives $485,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for two clinics in the territory to expand their testing capabilities. The Frederiksted Health Clinic on St. Croix receives $275,719 and the East End Medical Center on St. Thomas receives $209,149.
Governor Bryan announces that a case of the COVID-19 drug Remdesivir is being sent to the territory. It is a limited supply, but Governor Bryan said more of the drug will be sent to the territory when production is increased. Governor Bryan also announces that the first round of stimulus checks – between $8 million and $10 million – are being mailed out.
USVI records its sixth COVID-19 death. The deceased is a male resident of St. Croix and a close relative of the husband and wife, who were the fourth and fifth victims.
Governor Bryan announces that he has signed into law the 60-day extension to the State of Emergency order that was approved by the 33rd Legislature and a bill allowing all eligible voters in the Territory to vote by absentee ballot to avoid possible contact with persons infected with COVID-19.
The V.I. Office of Veterans Affairs announces that the Methodist Training and Outreach Center was awarded additional funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program to serve homeless veterans through the CARES Act. This funding is to be used to immediately meet the needs of homeless veterans or those veterans who may be facing homelessness through the loss of current housing.
BMV says it will reopen and provide all services, except road tests and written tests for the learner’s permit. Residents can drop off all required paperwork in a lock box and the BMV will call them when their documents or stickers are ready to be picked up.
Governor Bryan announces that the Social Security Administration reaches an agreement with the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide data about Social Security recipients that will enable the Territory to distribute stimulus checks to the beneficiaries without their having to file a 2018 income tax return for informational purposes.
Governor Bryan resubmits the amended Cannabis Use Act and urges the 33rd Legislature to act expeditiously on it so the Territory can begin tapping into a new revenue stream that will help restart the economy in the USVI and shore up its Government Employees Retirement System.
Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas partially reopens and begins scheduling non-high risk patients for elective procedures while keeping in place strict social distancing and safety protocols, such as screening all who enter the facility for COVID-19 and requiring the use of cloth face masks.
Governor Bryan announces he will ease restrictions on bars and restaurants, allowing bars to reopen and restaurants to serve dine-in customers beginning the Tuesday after Memorial Day. All bar and restaurant employees must wear face coverings, restaurants must put tables 6 feet apart and can only operate at 50 percent of their dine-in capacity and bar stools must be spaced 6 feet apart.
The U.S. Virgin Islands joins other states and territories in flying flags at half-mast for three days in remembrance of the victims who died of the COVID-19 virus.
The Virgin Islands Department of Education announces the schedule for virtual graduation ceremonies in the Territory. The pre-recorded ceremonies will be livestreamed on the department’s Facebook page and broadcast on local TV channels and feature video messages from the top students at each high school
The American Cancer Society’s annual “Relay for Life” fundraiser on St. Croix is postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the highlights of the Memorial Day weekend, the Relay is postponed until October.
The American Cancer Society’s annual “Relay for Life” fundraiser on St. Croix is postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the highlights of the Memorial Day weekend, the Relay is postponed until October.
The Virgin Islands Department of Labor begins ramping up distribution of benefits from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program to local recipients of unemployment checks. The program provides an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits and is retroactive to April 4.
Following Memorial Day weekend, restrictions on bars and restaurants are officially lifted. Restaurants are allowed to serve dine-in customers at 50% occupancy or 50 customers, whichever is less, and bars are allowed to reopen as long as bar stools are placed 6 feet apart.
Governor Bryan announces the formation of the V.I. Healthy Housing Initiative in partnership with the Corporation for Supportive Housing to assess housing and healthcare needs in four key areas: Behavioral Health; Youth Rehabilitation Services; Supportive Housing; and Elder Care Services.
During his weekly COVID-19 update, Governor Bryan announces the Territory will move to the “Open Doors” phase of reopening the Territory. In addition to allowing all business to reopen, the Governor’s executive order allows hotels, villas and Airbnb vendors to begin taking reservations and lifts restrictions on hospitality-related businesses. Thermal scanners are being installed at the airports and other measures are put into place to track visitors and their health.
Governor Bryan delivers the Fiscal Year 2021 Executive Budget Proposal to the 33rd Legislature, two days before the deadline of May 31 mandated by law. The Governor says revenues will be significantly reduce by $126 million because of COVID-19.
In May, the V.I. Water and Power Authority issues 34,875 credits to ratepayers through the Government of the Virgin islands YES program, which is funded with federal monies from the CARES Act. The Authority issued $10 million through 5,461 credits of $500 to commercial ratepayers and 29,414 credits of $250 to residential customers.
The “Open Doors” phase of the Territory’s economic recovery from COVID-19 officially begins… on the same day that Hurricane Season officially begins. Almost all of the restrictions imposed on businesses and the hospitality industry are lifted, although facial coverings are required for all businesses and their customers under Governor Bryan’s “No Mask, No Service” order.
The Spring Revenue Estimating Conference, which had been delayed by COVID-19, takes place and reveals the scope and impact the pandemic has had on the Territory’s economy. Initial revenue projections for 2020 revenue of $868.9 million are adjusted downward to $718.3 million.
Governor Bryan convenes the third meeting of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Committee to talk about what the post-COVID-19 economy will look like in the Virgin Islands. The CEDS Committee is comprised of representatives of the business community, the Tourism sector and non-profits, members of Governor Bryan’s Cabinet and other community stakeholders.
The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs announces that restrictions against live music will be lifted. Bands or DJs must set up with at least a 10-foot space from patrons, and live bands or DJs are prohibited in public spaces.
The Virgin Islands Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation announces a series of virtual summer camps, including online classes in beginner and intermediate dance; cultural arts and crafts; visual arts; and fundamentals of volleyball, basketball and baseball. Instructors will stream live on Facebook and Zoom daily.
The Virgin islands Department of Human Services announces federal approval of a Pandemic-EBT plan to provide food assistance to approximately 15,000 children and deliver more than $5.6 million to the Territory
After giving his weekly COVID-19 update, Governor Bryan announces “Healthier Horizons,” which is a sweeping reform of the Virgin Islands’ healthcare system comprising 11 different initiatives, including submitted legislation for the Behavioral Health and developmental Disabilities Act; merging the V.I. Fire Service and Emergency Medical Services; a health information exchange; telemedicine; a Healthy Housing initiative; and legislation to allow medicinal cannabis.
Governor Bryan announces his annual “Summer Reading Challenge,” which will be conducted virtually through online book borrowing. The V.I. Department of Education partnered with openlibrary.org to provide books for free to Virgin Islands students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The Department of Health announces five new cases of COVID-19 in the Territory, including the first community-acquired case on St. John. This brings the territory’s total confirmed cases to 76 — 33 on Croix, 39 on St. Thomas, and 4 on St. John.
Governor Bryan submits legislation for an amended version of the Revenue Anticipation Note he submitted in March. The $60 million the Governor is requesting will be used to supplement government operations in the wake of the financial devastation in the Territory from the COVID-19 pandemic.
During his weekly COVID-19 update, Governor Bryan says he is not planning to close the beaches for the long July 4th weekend, but he reminded residents to “Mask Up” if they plan to celebrate the holiday at the beach or elsewhere.
As a second wave of COVID-19 cases begin to surge in the Territory, Governor Bryan orders beaches to close at 4 p.m. for the July Fourth weekend and bars to stop serving alcohol and retail stores to stop selling alcohol at 11 p.m. until further notice.
Governor Bryan meets with officials at Limetree Bay Refinery on St. Croix to address the continuing surge of Coronavirus cases, which appear to be originating from contract workers from the mainland living in the Limetree Bay “Man Camp.”
As the sure in COVID-19 cases explodes on the U.S. mainland, Governor Bryan institutes restrictions for travelers arriving from Florida, Texas and Arizona, who must present proof of a negative COVID test upon arrival or go into 14-day quarantine.
Governor Bryan tightens restrictions on travelers and sets a 10% positivity rate as the threshold, affecting visitors from any state at that rate or higher, which at this point are: Alabama; Arizona; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Kansas; Mississippi; Nevada; South Carolina; and Texas.
Governor Bryan and Education Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin detail the plan to reopen the Territory’s schools. The plan calls for a hybrid of in-class and distance learning, and the territory is awaiting delivery of thousands of laptops to distribute to students.
Governor Bryan issues an executive order granting high school graduates a supplemental scholarship of $1,000 because of hardships that resulted from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Territory’s residents and the education system.
During his weekly COVID-19 update, Governor Bryan says the Government of the Virgin islands is “running on fumes” and details the aggressive lobbying he is doing with members of Congress and the federal government to keep the Virgin islands on the agenda while Congress puts together a new stimulus package.
The Virgin Islands Department of Education announces it will accept applications for its “Learn from Home” distance learning option for school year 2020-2021 through July 31. Additionally, parents are no longer required to submit a signed form from a licensed physician confirming underlying health conditions of students registering for “Learn from Home.”
VITEMA, which is monitoring the development of a tropical wave that is approaching the Territory, urges residents to prepare ahead of time for a storm. “In this COVID environment, it is also imperative that you avoid waiting until the last minute to rush to the store to get what you need,” VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen says.
During his weekly COVID-19 briefing, Governor Bryan announces the launch of the Department of Tourism’s online portal to will help in the prescreening and certification process of travelers arriving into the Territory. All travelers will be greeted with a welcome that guides them through a series of screens, including General Information, Terms and Conditions, Traveler Information, and the COVID-19 Traveler Screening Tool.
Governor Bryan calls a press conference to address the weather system approaching the Territory that is expected to develop into a tropical storm. VITEMA says it will not be distributing sandbags because of the threat of spreading COVID-19 at distribution sites, and Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez said she doesn’t plan to activate any shelters because of the possibility of spreading the virus. The Territory also records its eighth COVID-related death.
Governor Bryan institutes a curfew to begin at midnight and run through noon and closes government offices early and through the next day in anticipation of the impact of Potential Tropical Cyclone 9.
President Trump approves an emergency declaration for the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of the storm that moved through the Territory on Wednesday. Governor Bryan had submitted the application on Monday.
“Sam the Sailor” leaves Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas after recovering from a severe COVID-19 infection. Rolly Tolentino, a 47-year-old Filipino was in critical condition when the freighter he was on was denied entry into Puerto Rico in May. Governor Bryan allowed Mr. Tolentino to be airlifted to Schneider, where he ultimately recovered and flew home three months later.
The U.S. Department of Transportation allocates $4.1 million dollars for VITRAN, the public transportation system, from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES). The funding will be used to purchase personal protective equipment for staff, paying administrative leave, training for social distance, COVID-19 testing, as well as the sanitization of buses, bus shelters, transfer stations and depots.
Governor Bryan issues a press release clarifying why some Social Security recipients received two Stimulus checks. The error resulted when the Treasury of Puerto Rico, known as “Hacienda,” issued checks by direct deposit after the USVI had mailed 6,473 checks totaling $7.3 million of payments to Social Security recipients.
The Department of Tourism announces that it will close its offices for two weeks because of a surge in the spread of COVID-19.
In an effort to stop a growing search of positive virus cases, Governor Bryan announces during his weekly COVID-19 briefing that he is increasing enforcement for restaurants and boaters who aren’t practicing social distancing and approving fines for people not wearing facial coverings.
The Bureau of Corrections issues a press release about 20 staff and inmates at the St. Thomas jail becoming infected with COVID-19. It was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in any Bureau of Corrections facility.
Governor Albert Bryan Jr. signs into law a bill granting up to 80 hours of administrative leave with pay for first-responders who are being quarantined or whose health may be affected by the immediate medical pandemic.
The Department of Human Services and Department of Health collaborate to deal with multiple positive cases of COVID-19 at the Queen Louise Home for the Aged on St. Thomas. Of 17 residents tested, 10 returned positive results, and of 25 Queen Louise staff tested, 6 tested positive.
In response to the continuing spread of COVID-19, Governor Bryan orders the Territory to return to “Stay at Home” status, or the orange level, which means the closure of non-essential businesses, restaurants limited to take-out, delivery or drive-through service and hotels, villas, Airbnbs, temporary vacation housing and charter vessels and similar businesses are prohibited from accepting leisure travel reservations.
The Virgin Islands Department of Education outlines its plan to open the 2020-2021 school year on a fully virtual schedule. Highlights from the plan include students and school-based staff will learn and work from home, Sept. 8-Jan. 20; laptop and Mifi internet devices, as well as desks and chairs will be distributed to students needing those items; and a new online technology that will serve as a hub for teachers, students and parents to communicate will be implemented.
During his weekly COVID-19 briefing, Governor Bryan says the Department of Health has begun inspections of restaurant sanitization equipment and those that pass will be issued a certificate exempting them from the requirement to use disposable utensils, dishes and drink containers.
Because of positive COVID-19 cases at the Legislature, Governor Bryan reschedules a Special Session he called for the Senate to take action on his Matching Fund Securitization plan to refinance the government’s debt.
The Department of Human Services confirms that the oldest resident of the Queen Louise Home for the Aged on St. Thomas, a 101-year-old woman, has become the 10th person in the Territory to die from COVID-19. The other 11 residents of the seniors facility who tested positive are in relatively good health, according to the department.
During his weekly COVID-19 briefing, Governor Bryan confirms the 11th COVID-related death in the Territory. He also eases some of the restrictions under the “Stay-at-Home” order pertaining to the Census Bureau, dive shops, houses of worship and professional services businesses.
The Department of Human Services announces it has begun distribution of food assistance to more than 13,000 children from schools that participated in the School Lunch Program totaling more than $4.9 million additional dollars to the Territory via an Electronic Benefit Transfer System (EBT). Pandemic EBT benefits are intended to help families supplement the nutritional needs of their children due to pandemic school closure.
The Department of Human Services confirms that three more residents of the Queen Louise Home for the Aged on St. Thomas have died from COVID-19. They are the Territory’s 12th, 13th and 14th victims of the virus.
The Department of Health receives a donation of 800 vials of Remdesivir from the state of New Jersey following a conversation between Governor Bryan and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. The shipment is enough to treat 100-200 Virgin Islanders.
The Department of Human Services announces that its 2020-2021 Head Start school year will begin virtually on September 14 until it is determined that in-person instruction can safely resume. To prepare for the launch of the virtual school year, Head Start staff begins contacting parents for initial orientation and distribution of learning packets.
During his weekly COVID briefing, Governor Bryan returns the Territory to “Safer-at-Home” status, loosening conditions that allow non-essential businesses to reopen, restaurants to begin serving in-house dining and beaches to remain open until 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
The Department of Health confirms the Territory’s 19th COVID-related death, an 82-year-old man on St. Thomas.