U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – During the Government House weekly press briefing on Monday, August 16, 2021, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. again implored residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to bring the Virgin Islands to the vaccination level that will reduce the number of cases and hospitalizations.
As of August 14, the Virgin Islands Health Department was tracking 370 active cases of the virus, and 39 people were hospitalized, with nine of them on ventilators. Of those patients hospitalized for COVID-19. None are fully vaccinated.
“What’s even scarier about this is people recover from COVID, and they don’t leave the hospital. So you’re no longer COVID-positive, but you have a lung problem or kidney problem or heart problem or clotting problem that causes you to stay there,” Governor Bryan said. “It only reflects the people that tested positive today. What happens over time is more and more people end up in the hospital and for longer periods. What that causes is for other people who need to access services not to be able to get them.”
During the weekly briefing, Assistant Health Commissioner Dr. Nicole Syms gave a heartbreaking personal account, noting that Monday marked one year to the day since her niece was buried after dying from COVID-19. Since that time, she has lost five additional persons to the deadly virus.
“I find myself here again appealing to you and almost begging you to please take this seriously. The data that I’ve just read is the highest that we have seen,” Dr. Syms said. “Our hospitals are full. Our staff is burnt out. We are mourning, some of us personally, some of us professionally.
Governor Bryan also stressed that none of the people currently in the care of the Territory’s hospitals for COVID-19 are vaccinated. Therefore, this contagion and the deaths that accompany it are absolutely avoidable.
“As Governor, I take the health and well-being of every single Virgin Islander seriously. This pandemic has only heightened that real concern,” the Governor said. “I often think about Virgin Islanders we have lost and the loved ones they have left behind. I think about the Virgin Islanders who are currently hospitalized in our hospitals fighting their best fight against this virus.
“I think about the many Virgin Islanders who have had the virus and now find themselves unable to do the things they had once enjoyed because of the long-term impact of the virus,” Governor Bryan said. “For these reasons, I get really passionate about everybody getting vaccinated, and I’m sure you can see the frustration and the stress come through. I know many of you are hesitant about the vaccine for a number of reasons. But I understand and respect your right to choose.
“But this is about the health and safety of the Virgin Islands community. The only line in the sand is that the data shows to exist is a line between survival and severe illness and death,” Governor Bryan said. “I do not want to see one more Virgin Islander lose their life to the virus. I hope that you find it within yourself to move towards consideration and maybe even vaccination.”
Vaccination Lottery winners
The winners for the August 6 drawings for $100,000 in the Vax-to-Win Lottery are:
- Ionie Noel on St. Croix
- Barbara Ortega Butcher in the St. Thomas-St. John District ($50,000)
School-based Special Lottery
The winners for the August 9 special drawing for school-based personnel are:
- Joseph Auguste – Educational Complex HS ($25,000)
- Henry Awika – UVI ($10,000)
- Minerva Delauney – Central HS ($5,000)
St. Thomas-St. John District
- Vernon Callwood – Charlotte Amalie HS ($25,000)
- Eric Christian – UVI ($10,000)
- Eugene Farrell – Ss. Peter and Paul HS ($5,000)
- 48,756 persons have received a first dose
- 39,413 persons have been fully vaccinated
Anyone 12 and up is eligible to receive the vaccine. Please make sure to have a parent or guardian accompany any minor wishing to get vaccinated and must bring an ID for both the minor and the parent or guardian.
Anyone who thinks they may have contracted COVID-19 can call the Epidemiology hotline at 340-712-6299 or 340-776-1519. For more information, visit covid19usvi.com.
For information about the COVID-19 vaccines or to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated, call the VITEMA hotline Mondays-Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 340-777-VACS (8227). Vaccination appointments also can be scheduled online at covid19usvi.com/vaccines.
“While you are being tested or waiting for the results from testing, we’re asking that you do not traverse the streets. Once you have taken a test, please do not go to any stores or any areas with other persons,” Dr. Syms said. “Help us to reduce transmission, illness, hospitalizations and death.”
Pop-Up testing sites
This week, pop-up testing sites will be at the following locations:
• Home Depot on St. Thomas on Tuesday, August 17, from noon to 2 p.m.
• Charles Harwood Complex on St. Croix on Tuesday, August 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
• The V.I. Port Authority Gravel Yard on St. John on Wednesday, August 18, from 1 to 4 p.m.
“Starting this week, we will expand daily testing to prioritize those who are sick or in close contact of a positive case,” Dr. Syms said. “This will replace pop-up testing as of Thursday, August 19.”
Residents can pre-register for testing online at www.covid19usvi.com/testing and free vaccines are available at the pop-up testing sites.
COVID-19 cases as of August 14
• 5.39% seven-day positivity rate
• Currently tracking 370 active cases (122 STX; 238 STT; 10 STJ).
• 157,247 individuals tested to date.
• 151,952 people tested negative.
• 5,295 individuals tested positive.
• 41 fatalities.
• There are 17 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, with 4 on ventilators, at Juan F. Luis Medical Center on St. Croix.
• There are 22 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, with 5 on ventilators, at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.
• Of the 39 COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the Territory, none are fully vaccinated.
The Bryan-Roach Administration is committed to transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in the government and ensuring that recovery projects are completed as quickly as possible. Visit transparency.vi.gov