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Important Testing Clarification:  PCR AND RAPID Tests are Both OK!

Important Testing Clarification: PCR AND RAPID Tests are Both OK!

Happy Weekend to you all!  I normally try to take the weekends off…from at least this job 🙂  But, I saw a ton of comments on the post from Thursday that are basically just false.  And, for those of your with upcoming trips on the horizon,  I wanted to give you a quick update about the type of test necessary to get into the territory.

(Disclaimer, I am not a doctor or a scientist or a government official.  The following information is taken from Memorial Health Care, the USVI Travel Portal and my conversations with the USVI Department of Tourism).

I’m not quite sure where this misinformation came from, but a TON of readers have been posting in the comments on the blog and on social media that the test for entry into the territory has to be a PCR test.  This is FALSE.  First thing’s first…DO NOT take recommendations or information from random posts online.  Go straight to the source.  The USVI Travel Portal’s current pop up window clearly states the following:

Important Testing Clarification: PCR AND RAPID Tests are Both OK! 1
Note the caption under domestic traveler information.

 

OK, so Antigen test OR NAAT (PCR).  Correct?

Antigen Test:  (frequently referred to as a rapid test). This test detects protein fragments specific to the Coronavirus. It can be done in a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital. Turnaround time for results is usually very quick and in some cases, results can be reported within 15 minutes.

NAAT (PCR):  PCR testing is considered the “gold standard” in SARS-CoV-2 detection. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms. The test can be done in a clinic, hospital, or even in your car. Turnaround time is longer, generally in the 2-3 day range but results can be in as little as 24 hours. When demand is high, results can take a week or longer.

In addition to both of these tests being accepted from a trusted lab with the name and address of the lab clearly printed on the official results that are uploaded to the travel portal, BiNax Now AG Proctored at-home tests are also accepted.

Important Testing Clarification: PCR AND RAPID Tests are Both OK! 2
AG Ccard with Proctored results is the only at-home test accepted.

The BiNax Now tests that are accepted must be proctored with an emed.com physician.  But, they are an at home testing option that will be accepted by the USVI Travel Portal.

So, Rapid Tests are ok.  PCR tests are ok.  BiNax Now AG Card Proctored at home tests are ok within a 72 hour window of travel (not arrival).

Important Testing Clarification: PCR AND RAPID Tests are Both OK! 3

Two other quick updates:

  •  You have recently had COVID and are still testing positive.  What do you do?
    • CALL the Department of Tourism, NOW.  There has been conflicting information on this end as to how to proceed if you have been cleared from quarantine but are still testing positive.  The big thing here is this:  Do not rely on an at home test to say you are positive.  If you test positive with an at home test, immediately schedule a test with your physician so that you have proof of date of past positivity if needed.
  • You are traveling in the next 24 hours and still haven’t received your green code.  What do you do?
    •  OK, a few things here.  I was assured from the DOT that they are very busy but are sorting the test results based on the departure time and date.  Everyone who is traveling SHOULD have their green code by midnight the night before travel.  If you did not receive it (and now that you submitted the proper negative test results), there are a couple of ways to proceed…
      • If you are traveling on a weekday, just call them on the morning of travel or the afternoon before!  Have the code for each member of your party from the confirmation email handy when you call.  They can likely expedite the results.
      • If you cannot reach them before leaving for the airport, print the confirmation email and your valid, negative test results to have on hand to show the airline and the gate agents on St. Thomas.  I cannot speak to the airline policies, but it might do you one solid to contact your airline as well before heading to the airport to make sure they will accept the paper copies.

Please be patient with the folks on the ground here…On the phone or in person.  This has likely not been an easy transition for them either 🙂  Hopefully this will simmer out soon and we will be back to the easier five day window…

I apologize if I seem a bit frustrated today…I had originally planned to share some beautiful pictures with you all instead of another testing update!  But, this is the dominant conversation and I’m trying my best to continue to get this rapidly changing information out there to you all!  I know it is all very frustrating and stressful.  As I mentioned previously, my parents are headed down on January 30 and we are dealing with the same thing.  At my advisement, they scheduled their tests last week for the upcoming 72-hour window and plan to quarantine for 10-14 days prior to their trip in order to ensure their negative test results, and their coveted annual trip to St. John (to see me!).

If you need any clarification or have questions about any of the testing information, please PM me on Facebook or email me and I’ll do my best to get those answers to you!  If I don’t know, I’ll make a call and find out.  But, first, please go straight to the source and reference the USVI Travel Portal and/or call the Department of Tourism, Monday-Friday from 8AM-5PM AST at 1-800-372-8784.  Getting information about your specific situation straight from the DOT will likely be better in the event that someone conveys inaccurate information to you…I would also ask for email clarification so you have something in writing.

I have some fun things lined up for early next week….So, please, bear with me if the travel testing information is not relevant to you.  It is extremely important to so many with upcoming trips right now.  I’ll get you back to the positive stuff in just a few days.  Have a great weekend everyone!

25 thoughts on “Important Testing Clarification: PCR AND RAPID Tests are Both OK!”

  1. Thank you very much for this informative post. It helps to clear up misinformation, and it almost seems easier to find incorrect information online compared to finding correct information. My wife and I are heading down in late April, and your website/source of information is one of our go-to sources, along with the USVI Travel Portal. I think we should probably start playing St. Jonopoly to get us in the mood.

  2. Hill – Your attention to this issue and devotion to accurate info is a beautiful thing! We all appreciate you greatly!!
    Dave

  3. What dies it mean “ proctored “. Done in a doctors( medical) office? Could we take a rapid there if they are out of tests?

    • I was curious too and looked this up in my home state -Ohio. “The state has invested in two types of tests that can be used at home, for different purposes. The first is a proctored home test that uses a telehealth session to guide the user through the testing, and produces a documented result that can be used for official purposes like travel, return to school, or ending quarantine. Initiate a BinaxNOW Home test session by visiting Ohio.emed.com”

    • You have to download an App to your smart phone and set up an account in advance (you can do the same thing at eMed’s website on your laptop). On the day you intend to be tested, within the 72 hours of your arrival, you log into your account and start the “test” — which basically means you request that a video proctor connect with you via the internet and they will supervise you when you take the test (don’t open the test kit until you are connected with a proctor). You wait 15 minutes online and the proctor will come back on and verify your results. You do need to order the Binax Rapid AG tests from eMed and you must purchase 6 at a time for $150 plus shipping. We just ordered them and they were good until 12/2/22 but the shipping cost (overnight) was another $30+ dollars. Well worth it, in my opinion, with the backlogs that are happening locally with testing.

    • Hi Anne, you can order the Abbott BinaxNow rapid home tests from Emed.com. They provide an online proctored test service via Zoom. These are not the same kits you buy over the counter. Results are posted on the Navica app.

  4. Thank you for the clarification. We appreciate all the information and are keeping up on all the protocols for our upcoming trip in March, hoping the situation will improve so we do not need to cancel our visit to St. John yet again. In our state the doctors offices and hospitals will not do Covid tests for travel.

  5. Thanks Hillary for keeping all of us updated as to proper and current protocols necessary to enter the territory. We have planned a two week stay at Cinnamon Bay Campground beginning February 7 and certainly appreciate all the information you are sending out to your large family of followers.
    Steve and Joanne Gartland

  6. Thank you for your updates. We are traveling at the end of January and half of our group had the virus in December. Your information is very helpful.

  7. Thank you for this information- we recently had Covid and completed our quarantine time.
    We are traveling next week – hoping and praying we test negative

    I have several tests lined up just in case.

  8. So we fly out on a red-eye Thursday night and arrive to St Thomas on a Friday morning. We are on St Thomas for 24 hrs before our week on St. John. Does the same negative test work to get us on St. John as St Thomas? Or do we need to plan our test to focus on arrival to St John?

  9. Thank you so much for the info updates on testing. We followed your advice to the letter and had no problem getting here 1/9 from NJ. It was a BIG help. The only difficulty was getting an appt for a test! I would just give a heads up to everyone: CHECK YOUR SPAM/JUNK FILES!!! Our confirmation letter/green QR codes went there.

  10. My husband had Covid and completed his 10 day quarantine. He is still testing positive. I never contracted the virus. I test negative. We are leaving for St John soon. I have seen other people commenting in this blog stating the physician release is not acceptable and they still have to test negative. Can you clarify this situation. I have tried the 800 number and cannot get through.

  11. Probably a silly question but do we create the account to upload too prior to testing or do it all at once? Just curious as we leave a week from today and have tests scheduled for Saturday morning early. Fingers crossed.

  12. Thanks so much for all your hard work and awesome communication. We are traveling late February and am almost positive things will change yet again!

  13. Thanks so much for all your hard work and awesome communication. We are traveling late February and am almost positive things will change yet again! It is the world we live in…

  14. Thank you so much for the information!! We appreciate your newsletter!! We are scheduled to arrive Feb 5th! We love St John! This is our 3rd trip to the beautiful island and won’t be out last!!

  15. My problem is that all the testing sites have run out of antigen test kits. I have a couple days to cancel my reservation and get a refund. Although I hate to do that, I really don’t know if testing will be available at the time that I need it. They really need to make it five days for the PCR test which is more sensitive and three days for the antigen test.

  16. My husband had Covid and completed his 10 day quarantine. He is still testing positive. I never contracted the virus. I test negative. We are leaving for St John soon. I have seen other people commenting in this blog stating the physician release is not acceptable and they still have to test negative. Can you clarify this situation. I have tried the 800 number and cannot get through.

    This is my exact situation…does anyone know if a travel with documentation of recovery from a drs. Office will allow access?????

  17. So…….my question is: do we have to take BOTH BiNaxNow tests, as stated in their literature? Or only one before departure to STT? AND, if 2, both inside the 72 hour window??

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