Last week, the Governor’s COVID- 19 Press Conference was cancelled on Monday and delayed to Thursday due to a fiber optic cable being damaged on St. Croix. Therefore making it impossible for the live stream. Since there will be no press conference today, I wanted to take a moment to update you on some travel information from last week’s update. He notified us that we would not see him again for an update until the State of the Virgin Islands on January 25, 2021.
Numbers in the territory are, unfortunately, on the rise again. In November and early December, following a surge of travel and local gatherings over the holiday, the territory’s positivity rate rose to 9%. The Governor notates that we were able to fight that surge with personal responsibility and caution in the realms of mask wearing, sanitizing and social distancing. The VI dropped back to a 4% positivity rate for several weeks following. But another surge in holiday travel and local gatherings have brought us back to just under 9%.
The Governor has faith that by practicing our personal due diligence in regards to government mandates we can fight this additional surge as well. Keeping the territory, and our local businesses, open.
“We have to stay vigilant,” he said in his address last week.
As of Thursday, there were 127 active cases in the territory and there have been no additional VITEMA text alert updates since then. But, we have no hospitalizations at this point in time! The current active number on St. John is eight.
Beginning on January 18, 2021, every person traveling into the USVI will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test or a positive anti-body test in order to board their flight. This applies to both residents and visitors and you will be required to show your results on the USVI Travel Portal prior to boarding your flight. The below information in regards to required testing protocol comes directly from the Travel Portal Website:
Travelers are required to provide evidence of:
- a COVID-19 molecular (e.g., RT-PCR, viral or nucleic acid amplification) test from a nasal or throat or saliva swab sample taken and NEGATIVE result received (both within five days of commencement of travel to the Territory)OR
- a COVID-19 antigen (rapid) test from a nasal or throat swab sample taken and NEGATIVE result received (both within five days of commencement of travel to the Territory)OR
- a COVID-19 antibody finger stick or blood draw test taken and POSITIVE result received (both within four months of commencement of travel to the Territory)
For molecular and antigen tests, the five-day window is related to both taking the test and receiving results; tests taken or results received outside the five-day window do not meet the requirements. Travelers are encouraged to plan testing dates so as to receive their results within the five-day window prior to travel to the USVI.
The Governor, additionally, expressed concern about the new strains of COVID-19 and their higher rate of contagion. Stating that we currently do not know of any of the new strains’ presence in the territory. He also stated that the USVI has led the Caribbean in re-opening during this pandemic and is currently leading the nation in regards to low infection rates.
As a side note, I know many of you are concerned with where you are able to get tested before you leave the states. In many areas with overwhelming rates of positive cases, it is growing more difficult to get tests with an efficient turnaround on the results you need for travel. The USVI Government also released the following document, with information for looking up the lab you are receiving your test results from in order to ensure it is verified and accepted by the USVI Travel Portal. That search engine can be found on the CDC website.
Many airlines have partnered with testing labs and airports are beginning rapid testing on site for people traveling to certain areas that require a negative result for entry. Below you will find a list of resources that may make your life easier when it comes to obtaining testing with a quick turnaround so that you can visit us and enjoy the beaches and beauty of St. John!
The following states have airports that will test onsite for travelers. Please refer to this article from Travel and Leisure Magazine (December 11, 2020) for detailed info on which airports and associated costs.
- New Jersey
- New York
I would imagine this list is likely growing. My mom told me the other day that Cleveland airport is now testing as well. So things are hopefully broadening daily. Check the website of the airport you are departing from for updated testing information.
Major airlines are also partnering with different laboratories and testing sites to make your testing for travel a bit easier! In another article from Travel and Leisure Magazine (December 17, 2020), the participating airlines and details on their testing procedures are outlined in detail. As far as those flying into St. Thomas, the list is as follows:
- American Airlines
- Jet Blue
From what I can see, the majority of these options’ costs fall on the traveler. I wrote a post a while back about my personal testing experiences when I was in the states this summer. So you can check out that article for further pointers.
I’ll leave you on this note. We are open. Our businesses are open. It is beautifully busy and there are a ton of smiling (masked) faces on island. Both those of visitors and of residents who are finally back in the swing of making money again! This new layer of protection for travel was put into place in order to protect the lives and livelihoods of island residents, but also to ensure that you all can visit us for an amazing vacation this winter and spring. There is a territory wide mask and social distancing mandate for all public spaces, beaches and trails excluded. And large gatherings are discouraged. However, we are open and ready for you to come enjoy St. John. It’s beautiful here right now 🙂
I hope all of this information is helpful for your upcoming trip!