Hi all, our governor and several senior government officials just held a press conference and addressed the way the US Virgin Islands – St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix – is handling the COVID-19 crisis. Here is what they said:
- As of this afternoon (March 16, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.), the US Virgin Islands only has one confirmed case of COVID-19. The government will not release which island the infected person lives on. The Governor stated he would not release the specific island because we live in a small community, and he wants to respect the individual’s privacy.
- Following the lead of many states, the US Virgin Islands will limit the number of people gathering to 50. This applies to bars and restaurants as well. Because of this, St. Thomas carnival has been postponed. If people and businesses do not adhere to the less than 50 rule, the Governor will consider a curfew. The Governor emphasized that he preferred not to implement a curfew but would if people did not comply.
- All public schools in the US Virgin Islands will close for at least three weeks beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
- The Governor asked that people avoid using public ferries unless absolutely necessary for the time being. He plans to continue discussions with the ferry operators to determine how to best reduce density to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.
- The director of VITEMA, the Territory’s emergency management agency, stated that there has not been any impact to our supply chain thus far, and none is anticipated. As you know, the majority of our food and supplies is brought into the Territory via ship.
- The director of the Port Authority stated that the airports on St. Thomas and St. Croix are open and will remain operational. He added that the airports are controlled by the FAA and that the federal government would have to make the decision to close the ports, which would include the airports and seaports. He did say that the situation is fluid and can change at anytime. But to reiterate, the airport on St. Thomas is open and will remain open.
- The Governor stated that all cruise ship activity has stopped for 30 days. As of today, travel between the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands continues. The Governor stated he planned to speak with the Premier of the British Virgin Islands later today and will discuss best practices to keep travelers between the two countries safe.
- The Governor echoed the director of VITEMA’s statement and said there is not a shortage of food in the Territory.
- The Governor did not say that tourism should temporarily cease. He did not say to visit, and he did not say not to visit. We’re going to follow his lead on this one. If you cancel your trip, please come back and see us someday. If you do visit, please know that we are open, and you will be welcomed and treated kindly.
- And finally, the government officials stated that we all need to continue to be smart about this. We need to wash our hands. We need to practice social distancing. We need to self quarantine if we are feeling sick.
I would like to thank everyone who provided feedback today regarding how you would like News of St. John to continue. I was overwhelmed by the response. We will continue to share tidbits on island happenings. We will also continue to share information on COVID-19, its effects in the US Virgin Islands and our government’s response.
Thanks all. Be well. -Jenn xoxo
Tag: USVI COVID-19