Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory has tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing mild symptoms and will self-quarantine until Monday, her office announced on Thursday.
The news comes as the territory is experiencing a surge in cases. As of Wednesday, the latest figures available, there are 728 active cases – an increase of 425 overnight – according to the V.I. Health Department.
The V.I. Housing Authority also announced Thursday that its St. Thomas offices will be closed until Monday due to a possible COVID-19 exposure. Individuals with Low-Income Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher inquiries should contact the St. Croix Office for assistance at 340-778-8442.
Frett-Gregory, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, began self-quarantining on Tuesday after notification of a positive COVID-19 case in her office and underwent testing after experiencing mild symptoms, according to the announcement. She has cancelled all public appearances.
Frett-Gregory was scheduled to present the Official Keys to the Virgin Islands to four outstanding residents on Thursday at a ceremony in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers on St. Thomas. Senate Vice President Novelle Francis Jr. will make the official presentations on her behalf, according to the release.
“Let us continue to stay safe and adhere to the COVID-19 protocols,” Frett-Gregory said in the release.
The surge in cases comes as Carnival activities concluded on Sunday, with the bulk of infections – 523 as of Tuesday – on St. Thomas. St. Croix has 192 cases and St. John 12, according to the Health Department. Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas reported two COVID-19 patients in-house on Thursday, neither of them vaccinated.
It also comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking a new Omicron subvariant, BA.2.12.1, that is causing a spike in infections and hospitalizations on the U.S. mainland and appears to be more contagious than the BA.2 subvariant currently known to be circulating in the territory.
BA.2.12.1 was responsible for 36.5 percent of new coronavirus infections as of April 30, according to data from the CDC.
Health officials began testing all public school students and staff on Monday in a bid to ensure a safe return to class after the Carnival break. While St. Croix children have been able to return to in-person learning, classes in the St. Thomas-St. John District will remain virtual until at least Monday due to the preponderance of cases on the island, the Education Department said.
With infections on the rise, the Health Department reminds Virgin Islanders about the procedures related to isolating and quarantining after a positive test result.
Vaccinated individuals with a positive test result should isolate for seven days from their positive test date, regardless of symptoms, the department stated. They may return to in-person activities eight days after the positive test date — a negative test is not required — it said.
Unvaccinated individuals should isolate for 10 days from the positive test date and may return to in-person activities 11 days after the positive test date — a negative test is not required, the department said.
Regardless of vaccine status, anyone with a positive test result should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days when around in-home family members. You cannot test out of isolation at any point, the department said.
For close contacts of persons with positive test results, vaccinated individuals with no symptoms should quarantine for seven days, with the option to test out of quarantine at least five days after their last exposure. They may return to in-person activities after receiving a negative test, the department stated.
Unvaccinated individuals who have no symptoms should quarantine for 10 days, with the option to test out of quarantine at least seven days after their last exposure. They may return to in-person activities after receiving a negative test, the department stated.
Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested as soon as possible, and if you have symptoms but have not been tested, get tested and remain in quarantine until you have received your test results, the department stated.
Positive test results from a home COVID-19 test need to be confirmed, it said. Confirmation testing can be arranged by calling the COVID-19 Hotline at 340-712-6299 on St. Croix or 340-776-1519 on St. Thomas. The hotline is open Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. To pre-register for testing visit: www.Covid19usvi.com/testing.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911. For more information, visit covid19usvi.com. For COVID19 updates, text COVID19USVI to 888777.