Bryan and Encarnacion Report USVI’s COVID-19 Positivity Rate Drop

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Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion spoke on Monday about the importance of vaccinations. (Photo source by Susan Ellis)

The COVID-19 positivity rate in the U.S. Virgin Islands has dropped from 4% last week to 1.87% this week, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. reported Monday.

There are 22 active cases of COVID-19 in Sainte-Croix, 62 in Saint-Thomas and five in Saint-Jean, he said during his weekly press briefing.

The governor also said that 19 tests for newer versions of the virus – the B111, or UK version – have been sent to Yale University, but so far neither this strain nor the Delta strain, found in India, have not been detected in the territory.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion detailed COVID statistics and spoke about the use of monoclonal antibodies to treat people with symptoms.

Currently, there is a patient with COVID at Gov Hospital. Juan Luis in stable condition and in the intensive care unit at Schneider Regional Medical Center in St. Thomas. Both are treated with monoclonal antibodies.

The treatment was used 48 times in May and 60 times in June, with 18 doses administered to the JFL.

Encarnacion said that even though the treatment is working, everyone should get the shot. To date, 43,164 people have received at least one vaccine, or 54.4% of the adult population, and 35,151, or 44.3%, are fully vaccinated. New York state has had the most COVID cases in the country at one time and now 70 percent of residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and the state has opened up.

“If they can do it, we can do it,” she said.

The Virgin Islands’ vaccination target is 78 percent, according to Governor Bryan.

To date, 200 children between the ages of 12 and 16 have been vaccinated against the virus and the commissioner has encouraged more parents to take advantage of the free vaccines. A parent must accompany the children, and bring identification for everyone.

To make it easier for everyone, people can reserve a COVID vaccine in future test pop-ups or call the Department of Health to make an appointment at 340-776-1919 or 340-712-6299.

The next test sites and times are:

– Saint-Thomas, Tuesday, June 22, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Home Depot.

– Saint-Thomas, Thursday, June 24, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Fort Christian parking lot.

– Sainte-Croix, Tuesday June 22 and Thursday June 24, at Charles Harwood Hospital from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

– St. John, Wednesday June 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. at VI Port Authority Gravel Yard.

“We try to stay offensive rather than defensive,” she said.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 3,768 positive test results for the virus in the territory and 121,575 negative tests. 30 people in the territory died from the disease.

Masking and social distancing remain in force in the territory.

Bryan added new incentives for residents to get vaccinated. Starting July 9, there will be a draw for $ 100,000 each week for 10 weeks among the names of those who have been fully immunized.

Additionally, there will be a separate raffle for vaccinated education workers in public and private schools, including Head Start staff and bus drivers. Three prizes will be awarded on August 19, including $ 25,000, $ 10,000 and $ 5,000 for those who register. Information to register will be provided soon, Bryan said.

The governor also announced that all third stimulus checks – nearly 5,000, for a total of $ 7 million – have been sent and that recipients are expected to get them by the end of the week.

“If you get the second stimulus, you’ll get the third,” Bryan said, adding that if not, people should call the Bureau of Internal Revenue VI.

In the past year, the BIR has provided more than $ 226 million in pandemic relief through three federal programs with different sets of rules and guidelines, according to the governor.

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