Governor Bryan Announces COVID-19 Vaccines to Be Available to General Population March 1

Community Vaccination Centers to Be Opened in Each District to Allow All Residents to Get Vaccinated

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During Monday’s Government House weekly press briefing, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. announced that, beginning March 1, Community Vaccination Centers will be opened in each district to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to all residents. In the St. Thomas-St. John District, the Community Vaccination Center will be at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center. On St. Croix, the Community Vaccination Center will be at UVI’s Great Hall.

The Governor marked one year of the Territory’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and said that more than 12,000 Virgin Islanders have received one of the two available vaccines.

“Here in the Territory, we have set a goal of vaccinating half our population, or 50,000 Virgin Islanders, in that effort to achieve herd immunity,” Governor Bryan said. “We are now taking that effort one step further to allow the general public to ability to receive the vaccine in pursuit of our goal to achieve herd immunity.”

The Community Vaccination Centers will be supported through the Virgin Islands Department of Health, VITEMA, the Virgin Islands National Guard, the Department of Defense and FEMA.

FEMA is supporting the Territory with federal equipment and supplies for the two vaccination centers, and the agency has coordinated a mission assignment with the Department of Defense to support the Health Department’s operations, according to FEMA Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer Chris Allen.

The VITEMA hotline – 340-777-VACS (8227) – to assist residents with scheduling an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccination is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Residents also can visit VITEMA’s website at www.vitema.gov.

“As of this morning, more than 1,700 people have utilized the hotline to coordinate their COVID vaccinations,” Governor Bryan said.

The Governor also announced that the Government of the Virgin Islands has launched its “Take Your Best Shot” campaign to educate residents about the vaccines and the vaccination scheduling process.

Stimulus checks

Governor Bryan also announced that this week the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue will mail out a second batch of 10,000 stimulus checks totaling $9 million.

Residents who have not yet filed a 2019 income tax return have until Monday, March 15 to do so to be eligible for a stimulus payment. Residents who are not tax filers can file a 2019 form 1040 and annotate $1 on the interest line of the form.

Social Security recipients who received the first stimulus payment do not need to file anything further or do anything else, and the second round of stimulus payments will be mailed to them automatically.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue also has established a hotline – 340-714-9325 – to assist in responding to the high volume of calls be residents with questions about the stimulus checks.

Vaccinations administered

  • 12,869 first doses
  • 5,622 second doses
  • 18,491 total doses administered

“You are considered fully immunized two weeks after completing the second dose series of COVID-19 vaccination with both Pfizer and Moderna,” Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion said. “If you have your blood tested for COVID-19 antibodies once immunized, you should test positive for COVID-19 antibodies if your body successfully mounted an immune response.”

Commissioner Encarnacion said the antibody test result can be used to satisfy travel requirements for entry into the USVI within four months of the test and as an alternative to a negative PCR/antigen test.

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).

Beaches

Governor Bryan also addressed his decision to continue restricting access to the beaches after 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

“The beaches are not closed to parties and normal festivities because we want them closed,” Governor Bryan said. “Why are restaurants and bars open and the beaches closed? The simple answer is these establishments all have management that help us to control mass gatherings and wanton behavior that create super-spreader scenarios. Beaches, however, are not under such management and there are too many of them for our scarce monitoring resources.”

The Governor also noted that bars and restaurants create livelihoods for their owners, tax dollars and, most importantly, jobs for Virgin Islanders who otherwise would have problems paying their bills and providing for their families.

“We are aware that this puts a social hardship on our residents, but with your help as volunteers to take the vaccine, we can reach our goal for herd immunity and lift the curfews for our beaches,” Governor Bryan said.

Government employees

Governor Bryan said the reason he ordered government employees to return to work two weeks ago is to be able to provide services to the people the government serves from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“This was not a mandate to put employees in danger or to create hardships because your children are not in school and you lack child care,” Governor Bryan said. “For an entire year we have been operating on limited hours while most of the private sector has had to operate extra hours in an attempt to survive and make ends meet. We owe it to our community to answer the phones and provide the services that they deserve.”

The Government of the Virgin Islands has implemented a telework policy, not only for COVID-19, but for perpetuity, the Governor said. Other changes he pointed out are online registrations, virtual meetings, flex time and remote working, which Governor Bryan said are not temporary measures.

“Everyone is waiting for it to get back to normal and many of us are failing to see the vast change that we have undergone in the last year,” Governor Bryan said. “Things are never going back to the way they were. Adapt and look for the opportunities in your new reality.”

Pop-Up testing sites

This week, pop-up testing sites will be at the following locations:

  • Home Depot on St. Thomas on Tuesday, February 23, and Thursday, February 25, from 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Canegata Rec Center on St. Croix on Tuesday, February 23, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • The V.I. Port Authority Gravel Yard on St. John on Wednesday, February 24, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Buddhoe Park on St. Croix on Thursday,February 25, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

COVID-19 cases

  • Currently tracking 89 active cases.
  • 46,380 individuals tested to date (about 45% of the population).
  • 43,693 of those tests were negative.
  • 2,579 tests came back positive.
  • 2,465 people have recovered.
  • 25 fatalities.
  • One COVID-19 patient is currently hospitalized at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.

The Bryan/Roach Administration continues to be committed to transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in government and ensuring that the disaster recovery is completed as quickly as possible. 

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