Limetree Bay Terminals oil storage company and Limetree Bay Refining, the affiliated companies at the former Hovensa refinery on St. Croix, announced an increase in positive COVID-19 cases at the facility Thursday. The announcement does not say how many new cases were found. But the past several days have seen big increases on St. Croix, relative to the general trend in the territory since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Health Department reported 22 new positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the largest single-day increase in the territory since the pandemic began. Then another nine Thursday evening. That brings the total number of cases reported by DOH since the beginning of the week to 41. The territory had 153 positive tests and six deaths as of Thursday evening.
Of the cases reported Wednesday, 13 are on St. Croix, seven on St. Thomas and two on St. John. Of the new cases Thursday, seven are on St. Croix and two on St. Thomas. All in all, St. Croix has 91 positive test results, St. Thomas has 56 and St. John has six.
Limetree President Brian Lever said the company is working with the Department of Health and the Office of the Governor to beef up Limetree Bay’s existing plan to slow the spread of the virus at the oil storage and refinery.
“We continue to follow the guidance of the local and federal government to ensure the safety of our workforce, and we are currently working with the DOH and Governor Albert Bryan Jr. to come up with the best strategy to arrest the spread of COVID-19 at our plant,” Lever said.
According to the company, Limetree has decided to test all its contractors and employees for the COVID-19 virus on a recurring basis. All personnel will reportedly be scheduled for COVID-19 testing at either ProHealth or the Health Department. Then everyone will be re-tested every 14 days until further notice.
Limetree Bay’s protocols now include:
– Mandatory facial coverings for all personnel when in the presence of other individuals, regardless of recommended social distances.
– Restriction of all unnecessary business travel.
– Continued contact tracing and testing of persons who may have been in contact with an individual who tested positive or experienced symptoms of the virus.
– The addition of an onsite paramedic to monitor and track individuals who are within designated quarantine or isolation areas.
These protocols are very similar to those announced earlier in the week.
“Governor Bryan and Commissioner Justa Encarnacion have been very supportive of Limetree Bay and our efforts to mitigate the spread of this virus, and I would like to publicly thank them for working with us through this crisis,” Lever said in the release.
There are no plans to cease operations at the facility at this time, but the management team is considering all options to protect its workers, according to the company’s release.