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Health Department Confirms Two More COVID-19 Deaths

Artist's conception of the COVID-19 virus. (Shutterstock image)
Artist’s conception of the COVID-19 virus. (Shutterstock image)

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health on Friday confirmed the territory’s second and third COVID-19 deaths, one on St. Thomas and one on St. Croix.

The second deceased was a 72-year-old female St. Thomas resident with a history of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. At the time of her death she was hospitalized at the Schneider Regional Medical Center where she was on a ventilator.

A 77-year-old male St. Croix resident with a history of hypertension and diabetes tested positive for coronavirus and died shortly after, the DOH learned Friday afternoon. This case is considered travel-acquired, as the deceased recently traveled from Miami. At the time of his death he was hospitalized at Juan F. Luis and was on a ventilator.

“I express my heartfelt sympathy on behalf of the staff and senior leadership of the department to the family and friends of the two most recent deaths in the Virgin Islands resulting from the COVID-19 Disease,” said, Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion. “It is with sadness that we share the news of their passing with the community,” she continued.

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Unlike the first confirmed death on St. Thomas, this second death was a result of community transmission. People may come in contact with someone who, unbeknownst to them, is carrying the infection. By avoiding contact with others, avoiding non-essential travel, and practicing good hand hygiene and other precautionary measures such as sheltering in place, you can limit your risk of spreading and also acquiring this disease, the DOH said in its news release.

Most confirmed cases are travel-related, the department said, so it is especially critical to self-quarantine after travel while monitoring your symptoms. During this self-monitoring period, it is important to avoid close contact with others including those you may live with. Even for non-travelers, it is paramount to understand the risk of transmission among those you may have close contact with. Physical distancing is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission.

While the risk of severe illness for most people is statistically low, the risk for transmission is high and precautions must still be taken to avoid widespread transmission within our community. A person can also get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

The Department of Health recommended the following steps to limit exposure to the novel coronavirus and avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19:
– Limit socializing and close contact with others, as persons without symptoms can still transmit the virus.
– While sick, avoid contact with others.
– Avoid persons with cold or flu-like symptoms.
– Stay home if you are sick.
– Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and discard the tissue. Wash your hands immediately. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
– Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
– Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60 percent alcohol.

COVID-19 symptoms reported include fever, cough and shortness of breath. It spreads mostly between people who are in close contact via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People who have contracted COVID-19 are most likely to spread it when they are most symptomatic. This means they are more likely to spread it to others when they are sick.

Anyone experiencing symptoms like a cough, fever, and shortness of breath, and have traveled anywhere in the last 14 days, OR has come in contact with a confirmed case is urged to self-quarantine and call (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

For more information, visit: doh.vi.gov/coronavirus or cdc.gov/covid19. For updates, text COVID19USVI to 888777.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated since it was originally posted to add the second and third deaths reported by the Department of Health.

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