Starting Thursday, Aug. 19, the Department of Health will shift to temporarily cease its Tuesday and Thursday COVID-19 pop-up testing events on St. Croix and St. Thomas. This change will not impact pop-up testing and vaccines that occur on Wednesdays on St. John.
The department has set out to improve its free testing options by expanding daily drive through testing to prioritize testing for those who are sick or are a close contact of a confirmed positive case. Testing will be conducted drive-thru style from 9 a.m. to noon at the Charles Harwood Complex and from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Roy L. Schneider Hospital by appointment only.
Dr. Esther Ellis, territorial epidemiologist, urges the public to follow best practices during the current COVID-19 surge. “It is critical during this surge that if you are sick, you stay home, only leaving your home to get tested. After receiving a test, you are required to quarantine. Additionally, if you are a close contact of a positive you are required to quarantine for a minimum of seven days. You can test out of quarantine no sooner than day seven if you have no symptoms at all.”
Close contacts are individuals who were within six feet of a positive case for 15 minutes without a mask on over their nose and mouth. Close contacts exposed to a positive case should stay away from others and wait at least four days before getting a COVID-19 test.
Pop-up vaccinations will continue throughout the community at previously-used pop-up testing sites. The current schedule for pop-up vaccinations is between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, at the Charles Harwood Complex on St. Croix and between noon and 2 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Cost-U-Less on St. Thomas.
Community Vaccination Centers remain open on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Anyone 12 and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine by walking into any of the Community Vaccination Centers in both districts.
On St. Croix, the Community Vaccination Center is located at the Nissan Center, which is in La Grande Princesse, adjacent to the Honda Dealership and The Paint Shop, on the same side of the street as Food Town.
On St. Thomas, the Community Vaccination Center is located at the Community Health Clinic on the 2nd floor at the Schneider Regional Medical Center.
Individuals can schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine by calling 777-8227 or by scheduling online at www.covid19usvi.com/vaccines
COVID-19 Mitigation Team Lead Dr. Debra Wright-Francis shared her thoughts on the recent changes. “DOH remains committed to making testing available to the community. The surge in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has dictated a pivot to addressing the symptomatic patients and contacts first.”
The department is also working with private providers to expand testing options. Due to the current surge and high testing demand, the department urges the community to please schedule their testing online, utilize the epidemiology hotline or contact private providers directly, so that DOH can better accommodate everyone in need of testing at this time.
For callers to report suspected cases, the epidemiology hotline numbers are accessible from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 712-6299 or 776-1519. Preregistration for testing can be completed online at www.covid19usvi.com/testing