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HomeNewsLocal newsPost-Holiday COVID Numbers Good So Far, Vaccines Still Few

Post-Holiday COVID Numbers Good So Far, Vaccines Still Few

The territory has recorded its 128th death related to COVID-19 — a 90-year-old man on St. Thomas— the V.I. Health Department reported Friday. (Shutterstock image)
(Shutterstock image)

The territory may have dodged a widespread COVID-19 outbreak following the Christmas holidays but health experts warn we won’t know for sure until next week.

The Virgin Islands Health Department reported 11 active cases on Dec. 18 and the same number Jan. 7. These are COVID infections detected by or reported to the department, not untested or home-tested infections. And while they don’t show a bump after the Crucian Christmas Festival revelry that wound down Jan. 6, that data is on the way, said Territorial Epidemiologist Esther Ellis.

“There has not been a spike in COVID cases post-Crucian Christmas Festival. However, it does take up to two weeks to show a spike post-large-gatherings due to the incubation period of the virus, people getting sick, and then going to get tested,” Ellis said.

She urged anyone with symptoms of the highly infectious virus— fatigue, cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, body aches — to get tested. Free testing sites and hours are at the bottom of this article.

Meanwhile, the newest COVID-19 vaccines remain difficult to obtain for many Virgin Islanders since distribution was privatized in September 2023.

St. Croix’s Plessen Healthcare Specialty Clinic has the COVID vaccine available at its Sunny Isle location in the old Vitelco building. Walk-ins are welcome Monday to Friday. Bring identification and insurance information, an employee said.

On St. Thomas, however, Wilson Healthcare Consultants had exhausted their most recent shipment of COVID vaccines in December and was awaiting a restock order. An employee, reached on Tuesday, said they weren’t sure when it would arrive.

The Health Department itself has had difficulty stocking COVID vaccines meant for people with health insurance. As of Tuesday afternoon, the department only had vaccines available for people without insurance.

For those without insurance or whose insurance does not cover the vaccine, the Health Department continues to distribute inoculations free of charge, said Janis Valmond, deputy commissioner for health promotion and disease prevention.

“The V.I. Department of Health is offering free COVID vaccines for the uninsured and underinsured, meaning the insurance does not cover the cost of the COVID vaccine. The department’s Community Health clinics are working to purchase the vaccine for the insured and the public will be notified as soon as a batch is received. We have no timeline for when that will be,” Valmond said.

Free COVID testing is available on St. Croix adjacent to the Health Department’s red modular in Estate Richmond, weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

On St. Thomas, testing is free at the Schneider Regional Medical Center loading dock drive-thru Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

On St. John, free tests are offered at the V.I. Port Authority’s Gravel Lot, Wednesdays from noon to 3 p.m.

Those wishing a test can also book a slot in advance by calling the Health Department hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. On St. Croix, the number is 340-712-6299. On St. Thomas and St. John, it is 340-776-1519.

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