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BOSCHULTE: 50% Spike In COVID-19 Cases Is Due To Incoming Refinery Workers On St. Croix, Not Tourists

CHRISTIANSTED — Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte said a 50 percent spike in COVID-19 cases in the territory can largely be blamed on incoming blue-collar refinery workers on St. Croix — not rich American tourists visiting St. Thomas.

Responding to international reports concerning a jump in cases here, Boschulte said the total number of coronavirus cases moved from 74 to 111 in the last two weeks.

USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte

Boschulte said the USVI is in its precautionary “Open Doors” phase of restarting its tourism-based economy and encouraged everyone flying into the territory to review the travel advisory on and familiarize themselves with the Toolkit for Travelers.

“COVID-19 hotspots across the United States continue to emerge, and we have strict measures in place to mitigate the spread of the disease, such as health screenings at our airports and the wearing of masks when out in public or entering any business in the USVI,” he said.

But Limetree Bay Refinery said that it began taking steps to not infect the St. Croix public in March, when it instituted extra precautions at its “Man Camp” on the South Shore.

The executive management of Limetree Bay refinery and terminals said that any individuals testing positive for the deadly virus will be quarantined to protect the St. Croix public from disease.

“The health and safety of our staff, as well as the community, remains a top priority for Limetree and we will continue to take the necessary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 within our facility and our community,” Brian Lever, Limetree Bay president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement.

Individuals who were in contact with any person under COVID-19 investigation at the Village have been identified and quarantined per U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health guidelines, Lever said.

On March 23, Limetree Bay Refinery designated a 30-person quarantine facility apart from the Village housing, and developed a plan to include meal delivery, and regular sanitation of the facility.

The company also implemented personnel guidelines to restrict business travel, implemented social distancing practices to include removing dining areas, holding meetings via teleconference and implementing work from home options for employees.

“Limetree also requires all its contractors and employees to complete medical screening before returning to work from leave to include vacation and sick leave. Limetree continuously educates employees and contractors on what to do in the event they suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19,” according to the company.

It also noted that the company “recognizes that this is a difficult time for the community and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect and support our employees, their families and our community.”

Limetree Bay, located in Estate Hope, did not respond to requests for additional comment on Sunday.

“And we’re still forced to work under bad conditions every day.” Maurice Emanuel said on Facebook tonight.

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