Hi all! I hope this beautiful Tuesday finds you well! I know there has been a lot of COVID related info on the site lately, but we have recently received a ton of messages in regards to testing. So, I hope to get all of the information to you here so we can get back to some more fun things tomorrow 🙂
Testing is not ONLY required for arrival anymore. The State of New York is now requiring it for incoming flights and we may see more of that with stateside airports as the number of cases continues to rise. So, in getting out ahead of that…Here’s everything you need to know about COVID testing. For both arriving AND departing guests.
First, the arrivals. We have posted update after update on the testing requirements needed to arrive on island. This is a breakdown of what you need to do BEFORE arriving on St. Thomas.
- Get a COVID test: The test needs to be administered within five days of travel to the USVI. This means, if you are arriving on a Friday, you need to test and get your results between Sunday and Thursday. ALL members of your party, age FIVE and older, must be in receipt of a test and negative results. You may also present a postive antibody test that is dated within four months of arrival in the territory.
- Go to the USVI Travel Portal and fill out the required information: This form will ask for your flight information, accommodations, contact info, etc. for each person in your party. It will also ask a series of screening questions. When you are finished, you will receive a “travel certification.” In order to enter the territory, EACH PERSON IN YOUR PARTY ages five and up will have to show this certification along with their negative test results.
- If you do not receive your test results until the day before you fly, do not use the website for certification. Use this form instead and bring it with you along with your test results. So, if you’re within 24-hours of arrival, use the form, not the website. You may also use this printed form if you receive your results on the day that you travel.
Many people have asked if they can opt to quarantine instead of testing. Technically, yes. But, for the sake of the USVI community and your fellow travelers, the answer is no. Even if you have the best intentions about going straight to your villa or accommodations it is next to impossible to make zero contact with another human being en route.
For starters, you have already been on the plane with other arriving guests, through the airport, the bathrooms and/or baggage claim perhaps. Then, do you take a taxi? Even a private cab will put the driver and his or her family at possible risk. Then you either have to take a private boat with a captain, the ferry (DEFINITELY not quarantining) or the car barge. If you have rented a car on St. Thomas, you still need to interact with someone at the rental car counter, etc. etc. etc.
Additionally, the beach is not quarantining. Neither is the grocery store. To do this properly and safely, you would need to remain in your accommodations for 14 days. No one wants to do that. So, just take a test.
I received a call from a dear friend of mine who I have gotten to know over their years of vacationing on St. John. They are bringing their family down this month and she had some legitimate concerns about the testing ages and the fact that they couldn’t find a site that would test her young granddaughter. I was able to give her some first-hand info on finding a testing site in the states because I have, unfortunately, had get tested myself several times (All with negative results!). Currently, I am at my parents’ in the states and had to do some serious juggling in order to get myself a test to go home.
Generally speaking, with the national spike in cases, A LOT of places will not test you without symptoms or a physician’s referral. If you plug “COVID testing near me” into Google maps, the list autopopulates with a check list of requirements for getting tested.
Additionally, depending on your location, don’t tell the testing site that you need it for travel. If you’re in a rural area with limited testing, that may not get you the “results” you need.
Here are some additional words of advice on testing locations:
Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens offer drive-thru testing at locations nationwide. If you don’t have insurance the testing is covered under the CARES Act. They say 3-5 days for results, but most are returned closer to the three-day marker. They issue your results online so it’s easy to upload the results to the travel app.
Urgent Cares are your best friend! If you have an urgent or stat care type clinic in your area, I would recommend those as most efficient. Many across the country have drive-up testing options and deliver results much more quickly than their disclaimer says. The majority of them will take you without a physician’s referral.
If you can get a physician’s referral for a test, that is the absolute best way to go. Most hospitals that do their lab testing on site will accept a referral from your primary care physician in exchange for a test. If you can find a site that does their lab work in-house, the results will be quicker than most other options.
It might take you some time to call around in order to find the testing site that’s closest and works best for your whole party. The Department of Health and Human Services has a national database online if you need a starting point for making phone calls. But, trust me, no matter where you are, it’s possible and once you get the appointment set up the process is easy peasy.
Alright, now, you’re on St. John, enjoying your vacation and you need a test to get back into your home airport. New York is the only state that has mandated this currently, but I would imagine that others will follow suit. The pandemic for the US started in New York and its only safe to assume that they are a few steps ahead of the rest of the country in regulations and attempts to control the spread of it.
Fortunately, in the USVI, the concept of tests for travel is a bit more widely understood than it is in other areas of the country. So, there are less restrictions to juggle around in order to get a test to do so.
Here is a complete list of testing sites on St. Thomas and St. John along with the type of tests they run and the length of time to expect for results:
Red Hook Family Practice will gladly test for travel with a same day turnaround on results. The tests are around $200 by appointment only. Call ahead to schedule.
The Department of Health is doing pop-up testing on St. John once a week and anyone can be tested. The tests here are free and the DOH releases a new schedule bi-weekly. Test results have been averaging around 48 hours on delivery. They are not taking appointments but they ask that you please call ahead (386-319-2025) so that they can assess the volume of tests needed for the pop-ups.
As always, if you are experiencing symptoms while on island, please retreat to your accommodations and call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 340-776-1519.
Hopefully, with talk of a vaccination on the horizon, these protocols and hoops to jump through won’t have to be a thing for much longer. But, on the plus side, the USVI is open and cases seem to be hovering in very low numbers across the territory based on the protocols our government has put into place. We understand that in some states, these restrictions may look differently or they may not exist at all. We do ask that, along with the residents, our visitors abide by the regulations that our government has put into place in order to protect the community and our guests. We do so hope to see many of you this winter on island! The only things you need to do are:
- Get a test
- Wear a mask
- And have an AMAZING vacation!