With the addition of two positive COVID-19 cases to the territory’s overall count on Monday, officials said they will continue to monitor the public’s general health as travelers begin to come in.
Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. has said in previous press conferences that it is unrealistic to think visitors with COVID-19 won’t arrive. While temperature sensors and other measures have been installed at local ports, they won’t pick up those who are asymptomatic or in the early stages of the virus. However, he has also been vocal about residents continuing to wear masks and practicing social distancing to safeguard against the spread, a message he repeated while addressing the territory Monday.
According to the numbers, 2,383 individuals have been tested. Of that number, 2,305 have come back negative and 73 positive, with five tests pending. An email from the Health Department said one case was a returning resident to St. John from outside the territory while the other was a resident on St. Croix who had not traveled within the virus’ incubation period and was not a close contact of any of the other confirmed cases, therefore earning the designation “community-acquired.”
During Monday’s press conference on St. Thomas, Bryan added that in the case of the traveler to St. John, contact tracing is being conducted to see if anyone else could have been impacted.
Asked afterward about the overall outlook of cases over the next few weeks, Territorial Epidemiologist Dr. Esther Ellis said via email that Health will continue to monitor the numbers closely and release them daily on both the department’s website at www.covid19usvi.com and its Facebook page.
“If cases surge to an unmanageable number, then we will enforce restrictions again,” she wrote.
Bryan has also cited concerns about residents gathering at bars and restaurants, which recently have been allowed to reopen with restrictions.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of activity, particularly around bars, where there were a lot of large crowds and individuals who were not really practicing social distancing. I need people to understand patronizing these establishments puts you at higher risk than usual. We want to make sure you go out and support local businesses, but you have to practice some measure of safety and social distancing,” the governor said last week.
He added that while the territory’s COVID-19 numbers are still lower than anticipated, residents flouting restrictions could move the needle in the opposite direction.