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Roach Tests Positive for COVID; DOH to Test Students, Staff for Return to School

Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach has tested positive for COVID-19 and will self-quarantine until Monday, his office announced on Thursday. (Source file photo)

Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the remainder of Carnival activities as he self-quarantines until May 2, his office announced on Thursday. The Health Department said Friday that due to the recent rise in cases, it will test all of the territory’s Head Start and public school students and staff before they return to class next week.

Roach was tested Wednesday morning after a person in his office was found to be positive for the virus, the statement said. He had been scheduled to make remarks at the Carnival Food Fair that day on St. Thomas but was unable to do so due to testing positive.

Roach has been fully vaccinated since March 2021, the statement said. His infection follows that of Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., who tested positive for the virus on April 20 after returning from a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., and Miami. Also fully vaccinated, the governor was reported to be asymptomatic and self-quarantined until April 27, when he attended the Carnival Food Fair and Village opening festivities.

News of the lieutenant governor’s infection comes as the territory is seeing a surge in cases attributed to the highly contagious Omicron BA.2 subvariant just as revelers gather to enjoy Carnival activities on St. Thomas, including thousands who turned out for J’Ouvert celebrations on Thursday.

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As of Thursday, the latest figures available, there were 345 cases in the territory, with 141 on St. Thomas, three on St. John and 201 on St. Croix. Two people are hospitalized at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas, neither of them vaccinated, according to the hospital’s Facebook page where it reports the data. Juan Luis Hospital on St. Croix has not posted COVID-19 numbers since April 11, when it had two patients, both vaccinated.

Schneider Regional Medical Center announced on Friday afternoon that it has suspended all in-person visits due to the rise in cases.

“We understand how these restrictions may be difficult for patients and family members alike, but these measures are in place to help protect our patients, staff, and community from the spread of COVID-19,” hospital CEO Tina M. Comissiong said in a statement.

Limited exceptions to the policy include patients receiving end-of-life care; birth partners of maternity patients; and essential support persons of patients with special needs, including those with mental or physical disabilities, the statement said. They must wear a mask covering the nose and mouth and be subject to health screening, temperature scan, and other infection control protocols, it said.

Due to the recent rise in cases territorywide, the V.I. Health Department announced on Friday that it will conduct COVID-19 testing of Education Department students and school-based staff on May 2 and 3.

“While we anticipated an increase in positive cases during the Carnival season, infections have been showing up at a concerning rate and we want to do everything we can to ensure that students and school-based staff are as safe as possible before they return to their school campuses,” said Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion in the press release announcing the testing.

All school-based employees and students in grades 7-12 will be tested on Monday, May 2; public schools will remain closed that day. Students and staff receiving negative COVID-19 test results will resume in-person learning on Tuesday, May 3, the release stated.

All pre-kindergarten and elementary students will be tested on Tuesday, May 3, and those with negative COVID-19 test results will resume in-person learning on Wednesday, May 4. Testing will also be conducted on May 4 for students and staff who were not tested on the previous days, the release stated.

Parents who wish to test their children at a private lab may do so at their own expense, the Health Department said. Parents/guardians with multiple students at multiple schools may test all on one day. Faculty and staff may test with their school-aged children on May 2.

COVID-19 Mass Testing Schedule for VIDE Students/School-based Employees Monday, May 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All school-based employees, school bus drivers, and students in grades 7-12

St. Croix

  • D.C. Canegata Ballpark
  • St. Croix Educational Complex Parking Lot

St. Thomas

  • Old Cinema One Parking Lot
  • Joseph E. Gomez School Field

St. John

  • VIPA Gravel Lot (all JESS and IEKHS students residing on St. John test on May 2)

Tuesday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All pre-kindergarten to 6th-grade students

St. Croix

  • D.C. Canegata Ballpark
  • St. Croix Educational Complex Parking Lot

St. Thomas

  • Old Cinema One Parking Lot
  • Joseph E. Gomez School Field

Wednesday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All students, school-based employees, and bus drivers who did not test on the previous dates St. Croix

  • D.C. Canegata Ballpark
  • St. Croix Educational Complex Parking Lot

St. Thomas

  • Old Cinema One Parking Lot
  • Joseph E. Gomez School Field

St. John

  • VIPA Gravel Lot

Students and staff are urged to pre-register for Department of Health mass testing at the following links:

St. Croix: https://vitests-stx.usvi.care/schooltesting

St. Thomas: https://vitests-stt.usvi.care/schooltesting

St. John: https://vitests-stj.usvi.care/schooltesting

Pre-registration may also be accessed from the DOH website, www.doh.vi.gov, by choosing “Sign Up for a School Testing.”

Parents and school-based staff should receive test results on the same day of testing. If results are not received, inquiries may be emailed to results@doh.vi.gov.

Head Start Testing Schedule

The Health and Human Services departments have teamed up to provide COVID-19 testing for all participants in the territory’s Head Start Program. Parents are asked to bring their ID and an ID or birth certificate for the child when coming for testing, however no child will be refused testing. 

Wednesday, May 4, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

St. Croix  

  • D.C. Canegata Ballpark 
  • St. Croix Educational Complex Parking Lot 

St. Thomas 

  • Old Cinema One Parking Lot 
  • Joseph E. Gomez School Field 

St. John 

  • VIPA Gravel Lot 

Parents are urged to pre-register their children for the COVID-19 test at the following links:

St. Croix: https://vitests-stx.usvi.care/schooltesting 

St. Thomas: https://vitests-stt.usvi.care/schooltesting 

St. John: https://vitests-stj.usvi.care/schooltesting

Pre-registration may also be accessed from the DOH website, www.doh.vi.gov, by choosing “Sign Up for a School Testing.” 

Parents of all Head Start students should receive test results on the same day of testing. If results are not received, inquiries may be emailed to results@doh.vi.gov

*Editor’s note – This story was updated at 6:15 p.m. on Friday to say that Head Start participants will be included in the Health Department’s COVID-19 testing, and that Schneider Regional Medical Center has suspended in-person visits.

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