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Bryan Wants State Of Emergency Longer … Until Daughter’s $1 Million Contract Goes Through

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. today sent a request to the 33rd Legislature asking for an extension to the current State of Emergency Order, which currently is in effect until Monday.

Bryan is requesting an extension of the order to October 9 — or until the Avera Tech contract is approved by the Legislature — whichever is longer.

Michael Kadeem Pemberton explaining Avera Tech at the University of the Virgin Islands.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that as of August 3, 2020, the Coronavirus Disease, the sever acute respiratory illness that can spread among humans through respiratory transmission and presents itself with symptoms similar to those of influenza, has sickened more than 4,649,102 people and killed over 154,471 in the U.S. alone.” Bryan wrote. “Because the USVI is a travel destination it is not immune to COVID-19 and will remain at risk as long as it remains rampant throughout the U.S. and the world. The threat of COVID-19 is even more impactful to our territory as the 2020 Hurricane season is actively upon us, with the early arrival of storms and hurricanes looming out at sea.”

In his letter, Bryan asks the Legislature to suspend the portion of Title 23 of the V.I. Code limiting declared states of emergency to 30-day renewal periods.

“COVID-19 is unpredictable at this time but projected to last another several months, up to a year,” the governor wrote.

Bryan said a 60-day extension is more feasible and avoids having to call a Legislative session every month so as not to expose the Legislature and its staff to COVID-19.

Additionally, it is more likely his daughter’s $1 million contact tracing contract through Avera Tech with the Virgin Islands Department of Health will be able to pass muster, if there are fewer meetings of the Legislature.

But the Virgin Islands Health Department, after facing push back over its negotiations with startup company Avera Tech now claims it killed those negotiations weeks ago.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion told senators at a Committee of the Whole hearing in St. Thomas today that Avera was “disqualified” from contract negotiations on July 23 after the company failed to “submit corporate documents on time.”

Aliyah Bryan and Michael Pemberton are recent graduates of the University of the Virgin Islands. Avera Tech would have been the UVI grads first paying job.

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