U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During the weekly Government House briefing on Monday, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. announced the first two winners in the $100,000 Vax-to-Win lottery: St. John resident Ronald Mosholder and St. Croix resident Grethel Smith.
They each received $100,000 for being fully vaccinated, and nine more $100,000 drawings are scheduled for each district, which leaves time for Virgin Islanders who are not yet vaccinated to get the vaccine and be eligible to win the lottery.
Rules, prizes and other information about the lottery can be found at vaxtowinusvi.com, and the drawing is open only to Virgin Islands residents.
Once vaccinated, residents are automatically registered for the Vax-to-Win drawing, and any winners younger than 18 will have their prize held in escrow until their 18th birthday.
Residents who are eligible to enter the special drawing on August 9 that is open only to school-based professionals also can register at vaxtowinusvi.com or by calling 340-777-VACS (8227).
Governor Bryan also asked Virgin Islanders to pray for the residents of the British Virgin Islands, which still is in the throes of an aggressive surge of COVID-19 that saw three more residents die on Sunday, bringing the total number of COVID-related deaths to 17 in two weeks. Indications are that 100 percent of the people who succumbed to the virus were unvaccinated.
“People, please. The vaccines are available to anyone residing in the U.S. Virgin Islands 12 and older. They are safe. The science shows they are effective, and the science also proves that the vaccines save lives,” Governor Bryan said. “Becoming seriously ill, or worse, losing your life to COVID-19, is not a choice you have to make. Go out and take your best shot. Get vaccinated!”
COVID-19 Delta variant
Territorial Epidemiologist Dr. Esther Ellis said the Virgin Islands Department of Health has gotten some results back verifying different variants of the virus, and the department suspects that some of the samples, which are undergoing further testing, may be the Delta variant that is causing concern in the U.S. mainland.
The Health Department has been working with Yale University to test samples from positive COVID-19 cases, and so far, 84 samples have shown to be variants from sequencing. Of the 84 cases, 65 have been of the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), which is also known as “the UK Variant”; six samples have been B.1.526.2 (Iota) or B.1.351 (Beta); and one sample was B.1.429 (Epsilon), according to Dr. Ellis.
“Twelve samples are not confirmed to be any of the variants that have been previously identified in the territory and may be the Delta variant that health officials have been very concerned about,” Dr. Ellis said. “Full sequencing results for those 12 samples will be available this week.”
The Delta variant is a highly contagious mutation that originally surfaced in India in December 2020 and then swept rapidly throughout that region and throughout Great Britain, according to Dr. Ellis. The first Delta case in the United States was confirmed in March and it is now the dominant strain in the mainland and has reached as close to the Virgin Islands as Puerto Rico.
“Anyone who is unvaccinated is more at risk of getting COVID-19,” Dr. Ellis said. “The hesitancy or unwillingness to get vaccinated also harms our efforts to achieve community immunity and prevent the virus to mutate into stronger variants that may not respond to vaccines in the future.”
Retiree Retro Pay
Governor Bryan announced that beginning Thursday, July 22, retro pay for retirees will start going out in the mail.
“As promised, we will be making good on the $10 million in retro pay for the retirees age 65 and older,” Governor Bryan said. “In keeping with our pledge to be transparent and to improve government services using technology, the Division of Personnel has launched a website where, starting tomorrow, government retirees over the age of 65 can log in and view what they are owed in retroactive compensation.”
The website is at www.dopusvi.org/retirees, and retirees who do not have access to the internet can call a retro hotline for access to the same information or to ask any questions at 340-714-5010.
Payments may also be claimed by surviving family upon the death of a retiree. To check if a payment is owed, survivors can also visit dopusvi.org/retirees, download and fill out the W-9 form and affidavit and email both documents back email@example.com.
Child Tax Credits
Governor Bryan also gave an update on the Child Tax Credit payments that will be going out in the coming weeks.
“The USVI along with the other insular territories have not yet received the funding for this payout of the credit from the U.S. Department of Treasury, but through our work with them we do anticipate that the funding will be released to the territories by the end of August,” the Governor said. “Like the three separate stimulus programs, the territories had to submit a plan indicating how they would verify residents’ eligibility and how they would remit payment to those eligible residents. It is our intent to get those payments out in five monthly installments starting in August.
• 38,220 persons fully vaccinated (48.1% 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, July 20, from 1 to 3 p.m.
• Charles Harwood Complex on St. Croix on Tuesday, July 20, from 10 a.m. to noon.
• The V.I. Port Authority Gravel Yard on St. John on Wednesday, July 21, from 1 to 4 p.m.
• Fort Christian Parking Lot on St. Thomas on Thursday, July 22, from 1 to 3 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 July 10
• 4.25% positivity rate
• Currently tracking 157 active cases (70 STX; 81 STT; 2 STJ).
• 137,386 individuals tested to date.
• 133,226 of those tests were negative.
• 4,160 tests came back positive.
• 3,971 have recovered.
• 32 fatalities.
• There are 5 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, with one on a ventilator, at Juan F. Luis Medical Center on St. Croix.
• There are 11 COVID-19 patients, with two on a ventilator, 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