29 People Hospitalized as Department of Health Sees Two More Deaths from Virus And Monitors More than 250 Active Cases Across the U.S. Virgin Islands
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. struck a somber tone during Monday’s weekly Government House briefing and said the ongoing spike of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Virgin Islands is realizing the Territory’s worst fears and is entirely preventable if residents would get vaccinated for the good of the community.
Governor Bryan reiterated his plea to Virgin Islanders to get vaccinated following the announcement of two more deaths from the virus and 29 people being hospitalized, including five on ventilators and with 23 of the patients at Luis Hospital on St. Croix.
The Governor underscored that the hospitalizations and deaths are preventable if more members of the community would step to get the free vaccine and help the Virgin Islands reach the vaccination levels that would create herd immunity.
“I see the jokes and the internet memes, and I hear the debates, and while most are very entertaining, the sobering reality is that this is as dire a situation as our healthcare system has ever faced,” Governor Bryan said. “We are at a turning point, Virgin Islanders. And this debate about whether to take the vaccine is not worth your health and safety.”
The Governor said that despite attention being on breakthrough infections among vaccinated people, the science of the vaccines effect on COVID-19 are clear:
- Residents reduce their risks of becoming infected with COVID19 by becoming fully vaccinated.
- Those who become infected while fully vaccinated are less likely to become severely ill or need to be hospitalized.
- Because fully vaccinated residents are less likely to suffer severe illness or require hospitalization, their chance at survival is substantially greater than that of unvaccinated individuals.
During his closing remarks, the Governor touched again on the dire need for Virgin Islanders who have not done so to get vaccinated.
Governor Bryan said that the Bryan-Roach Administration has been a strong supporter of individual liberties and residents’ right to choose; however, the continued spread of more aggressive and contagious strains of the virus are forcing him to make some difficult decisions.
“It is the Bryan-Roach Administration that has created an atmosphere where people feel free to air their opinion even if it is in opposition to our policies without fear of being fired or having their contract cut off. I believe that we as Virgin islanders should be able to enjoy all the freedoms that every other American enjoys,” the Governor said. “Having said that, I must also face the grave truth that as a leader, I have to make decisions that are for the betterment of our entire community over those individual rights. The time is coming when we are going to have to make such a decision if we do not get the cooperation of the public.
“Not taking the vaccine allows the virus to mutate and figure out ways to overcome the vaccines currently in the market. We live in a community and more and more it’s not about your safety but those you live, work and commune with,” the Governor said. “We can get there together with your cooperation – without drawing a line in the sand between vaccinated and the unvaccinated.”
Vaccination Lottery winners
The winners for the July 23 drawings for $100,000 in the Vax-to-Win Lottery are
- Seeraj Rajkumar on St. Croix
- Lana Estrill in the St. Thomas-St. John District
Governor Bryan also clarified for the community that most of the restrictions he put in place through executive orders remain in place. In an effort to clear up any confusion on the part of residents, the Governor listed some of the most prominent restrictions and guidelines:
- The social distancing rule in effect mandates that each person remain six-feet apart when mask-wearing is not possible.
- The mandatory mask mandate remains in effect and applies to everyone 2 years and older, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.
- Mass gatherings are limited to no more than 100 persons in a single space and group gatherings, picnics, parties, camping and DJs, DJ equipment or bands are prohibited at the beaches.
- Cooking, grilling, and barbequing at the beaches also is prohibited.Restrictions remain in place regarding the operation of nightclubs and the initial rule to allow for operation with seated service only has not changed. (Cabarets remain closed.)
- Sales of alcohol are prohibited 11 p.m. and bar and restaurant establishments are prohibited from remaining open after 12 a.m.
- Patrons seated at the bar in a bar or restaurant establishment must be seated at least 4 feet apart and must wear their masks when not seated, eating or drinking.
- Bar and restaurant establishments are limited to 75% of their seating capacity or 100 customers, whichever is less.
- In-house music is allowed
- Live music is allowed – in licensed establishments – with social distancing requirements.
- Disc Jockey entertainment is allowed – in licensed establishments.
- Entertainment must stop at 12 a.m. – closing time.
- Pool tables and games are allowed as long as patrons wear mask.
- No dancing – by patrons or staff – is allowed.
- 47,350 persons have received a first dose (53.6% of eligible population)
- 37,281 persons fully vaccinated (44.7% of eligible population)
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, call the VITEMA hotline Mondays-Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 340-777-VACS (8227).
Pop-Up testing sites
This week, pop-up testing sites will be at the following locations:
• Home Depot Parking Lot on St. Thomas on Tuesday, August 3, from noon to 2 p.m.
• Charles Harwood Complex on St. Croix on Tuesday, August 3, from 10 a.m. to noon.
• The V.I. Port Authority Gravel Yard on St. John on Wednesday, August 4, from 1 to 4 p.m.
• Charles Harwood Complex on St. Croix on Thursday, August 5, from 10 a.m. to noon.
• Lionel Roberts Stadium on St. Thomas on Thursday, August 5, from noon to 2 p.m.
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 2
• 4.7% positivity rate
• Currently tracking 255 active cases (95 STX; 156 STT; 4 STJ).
• 146,679 individuals tested to date.
• 142,016 of those tests were negative.
• 4,663 tests came back positive.
• 4,369 have recovered.
• 39 fatalities.
• There are 23 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, with 3 on ventilators, at Juan F. Luis Medical Center on St. Croix.
• There are 6 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, with 2 on ventilators, at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.
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