The COVID-19 positivity rate in the U.S. Virgin Islands dropped from 4 percent last week to 1.87 percent this week, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. reported Monday.
There are 22 active cases of COVID-19 on St. Croix, 62 on St. Thomas and five on St. John, he said during his weekly news briefing.
The governor also said 19 tests for newer versions of the virus – the B111, or so-called British version – have been sent to Yale University, but so far, neither that strain nor the Delta strain, found in India, have been detected in the territory.
Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion elaborated on the COVID statistics and talked about the use of monoclonal antibodies to treat those with symptoms.
Currently, there is one patient with COVID in the Gov. Juan Luis Hospital in stable condition and one in the intensive care unit in the Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas. Both are being treated with monoclonal antibodies.
The treatment was used 48 times in May and 60 in June, with 18 of the doses given at JFL.
Encarnacion said that while the treatment is effective, everyone should get vaccinated. So far, 43,164 people have received at least one vaccine, or 54.4 percent of the adult population, and 35,151, or 44.3 percent, are fully vaccinated. New York State had the most cases of COVID in the nation at one point and now 70 percent of the residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and the state has opened up, said Encarnacion.
“If they can do it, we can do it,” she said.
The Virgin Islands’ immunization goal is 78 percent, according to Bryan.
To date, 200 children between the ages of 12 and 16 have been vaccinated against the virus and the commissioner encouraged more parents to take advantage of the free shots. A parent must accompany the children and bring identification for everyone.
To make it easier for everyone, people can reserve a COVID vaccine at the next testing pop-ups, or call the Department of Health for an appointment at 340-776-1919 or 340-712-6299.
The next testing sites and times are:
– St. Thomas, Tuesday, June 22, 1-3 p.m. at Home Depot.
– St. Thomas, Thursday, June 24, from 1-3 p.m. at Fort Christian parking lot.
– St. Croix, Tuesday, June 22, and Thursday, June 24, at Charles Harwood Hospital from 10 a.m. to noon.
– St. John, Wednesday, June 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the V.I. Port Authority Gravel Yard.
“We’re trying to stay on the offensive instead of the defensive,” said Encarnacion.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 3,768 positive tests for the virus in the territory and 121,575 negative tests. Thirty people in the territory have died of the disease.
Masking and social distancing remain in effect in the territory.
Bryan added new incentives for residents to take the vaccine. Beginning July 9, there will be a drawing for $100,000 every week for 10 weeks from the names of those who have been fully vaccinated.
Additionally, there will be a separate drawing for vaccinated education employees of public and private schools, including Head Start personnel and bus drivers. Three prizes will be awarded Aug. 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 of the third stimulus checks – almost 5,000, totaling $7 million – have been sent out and recipients should get them by the end of the week.
“If you got the second stimulus, you’ll get the third one,” Bryan said, adding if not, people should call the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Over the last year, the Bureau of Internal Revenue has paid out more than $226 million in pandemic relief through three federal programs with different sets of rules and guidelines, according to the governor.