U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During his weekly press briefing on Monday, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. made a number of announcements, including the activation of the Department of Tourism online portal for passengers arriving in the Territory; noting the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); nominating two prosecutors for the V.I. Superior Court bench; and extending the moratorium on evictions for renters.
The Governor said the online portal allows visitors, especially those arriving from COVID-19 “hot spots” on the mainland, to upload their travel health screenings and COVID-19 test results before they travel. The online portal is at www.usviupdate.com/travelportal.
“This portal is really the beginning stage of our multi-tiered plan to improve and make more efficient our health screening protocols for incoming travelers during this pandemic,” Governor Bryan said. “There is no playbook to this pandemic. We must draw these plays as we are running them, and your input, engagement and, more importantly, your cooperation are what will determine how successful we will be.”
ADA 30th Anniversary
The Governor also thanked Territorial ADA Coordinator Julien Henley for his efforts in making the Territory more inclusive for disabled residents and visitors.
“This legislation, in my opinion, represents the Bill of Rights for Americans living with disabilities,” Governor Bryan said. “Here n the Territory, we continue our efforts to ensure that we are in full compliance with this law and that every Virgin Islands resident has equal access to services, housing, transportation and information.”
V.I. Superior Court Judgeships
Governor Bryan also nominated two prosecutors for a seat on the V.I. Superior Court in each district: Attorney Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who currently is an Assistant Attorney General in the Virgin Islands Attorney General’s Office, for the St. Thomas-St. John District and Attorney Alphonso Andrews, a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and former judge on the V.I. Territorial Court, for the St. Croix District.
“I feel that we need to send a strong message to the criminals and our community by nominating prosecutors to the bench,” Governor Bryan said. “We feel that the experience, education and the demonstrated dedication to our community and fairness make them great choices for the judiciary.”
Moratorium on Evictions
The Governor announced an extension for one month to the moratorium on evictions for individuals who are making a good faith effort to pay their rent and are 60 days or less behind on their payments.
“The one thing we do know is that our people who are scared and many are in need of assistance,” Governor Bryan said. “We will continue to do the things within our power as a government to ensure that we protect your health and safety , and your livelihood as well.”
Social Security stimulus checks
The Governor said that the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Department of Finance have processed 6,473 stimulus checks for Social Security recipients totaling $7.8 million.
As we have communicated before, we had to validate the address information for those recipients before we could issue those checks,” Governor Bryan said. “We have begun mailing checks to those recipients whose addresses we were able to verify and are working on a distribution process that is safe and convenient way to deliver the checks to those recipients whose addresses we were unfortunately unable to verify.”
Reward in the Ashby Murder Case
The Governor also said he was contacted by an anonymous donor who pledged an additional $50,000 to the $10,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and capture of the person or persons responsible for the murders of 14-year-old Aaron Ashby and his 29-year-old cousin Rique Ashby two weeks ago at Tutu Hi-Rise on St. Thomas.
“In this case, a 14-year-old with a bright future was gunned down along with his uncle while going about their day,” Governor Bryan said. “We must bring these culprits to justice, and we know there are people in our community that have information.”
Following his announcements, Governor Bryan introduced VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen and Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez who gave an update on the Territory’s readiness as the peak of the hurricane season begins. Commissioner Causey-Gomez gave updates about shelters and shelter protocol and Director Jaschen detailed his agency’s efforts at tracking Invest 92-L, which he said could affect the Territory as early as Thursday.
- Currently tracking 107 active cases
- 8,410 individuals tested to date (about 8.5% of the population)
- 8,033 of those tests were negative
- 364 tests came back positive
- 13 tests are pending
- 250 people recovered
- 7 fatalities to date
- Two COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix.
- Six COVID-19 patients, one of whom is on a ventilator, are hospitalized at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.
Governor Bryan’s next update is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Monday, August 3.