ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning to Americans not to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands if they don’t have to.
In its warning, the CDC cited an increased risk of the coronavirus in the territory and limited medical resources for those who contract the highly-contagious disease.
It said all travel to the territory — including essential travel — should be avoided because of the high risk of contracting COVID-19 here.
On social media, many U.S. Virgin Islanders were not opposed to today’s news and some were harshly critical of the way Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. has handled the coronavirus disease crisis in the territory.
“We had this beat until we opened our doors… the Governor should be held accountable for the deaths of nine Virgin Islanders and the over 500+ who have been infected and will have life long conveniences,” Barbara Knight said on Facebook. “It was all for the money.. the more of us that get sick and die the more money he makes… Avera is just the tip of a very big plot to place millions in his pocket over the pandemic… so tourists keep coming as you will be assisting the local government in profiting! Sounds like only a handful of people compared to where you live but we have only 100,000 people… and NO resources.”
“I wish they would stay away!” Lolita Ayala Cuencas said from Christiansted, St. Croix on Facebook today.
In the CDC warning, it included these key points:
- CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- COVID-19 risk in the U.S. Virgin Islands is high.
- If you get sick in the U.S. Virgin Islands and need medical care, resources may be limited.
- Check with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health of the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Government House for details about entry requirements and restrictions for arriving travelers, such as mandatory testing or quarantine.
- Local policies at your destination may require you to be tested for COVID-19 before you are allowed to enter the country. If you test positive on arrival, you may be required to isolate for a period of time. You may even be prevented from returning to the United States, as scheduled. You might consider getting tested before your trip. If so, see Testing for COVID-19 webpage for more information.
“Older adults, people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions, and others at increased risk for severe illness should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to the U.S. Virgin Islands,” the CDC said. “If you get sick in the U.S. Virgin Islands and need medical care, resources may be limited.”
On Thursday, the Virgin Islands Department of Health reported 21 new cases of the virus: 17 on St. Thomas, three on St. Croix, 17 and one case on St. John. VIDOH said it is currently tracking 115 active cases. So far 10,520 people have been tested, with 9977 returning negative and 522 positive. The Health Department said 398 people had recovered as of Thursday. Nine people have died from the virus in the USVI.
Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. said this week he would shift his strategy to combat the deadly virus, keeping the territory open and trying to keep those infection away from the general population.
“When we started doing this, we thought we would be done by summer and then we would be okay,” the governor said. “The realization that it’s not going to end anytime soon — even if we get a vaccine, we still have another year at least — and coronavirus is going to be around for years. So the most important thing now is being able to manage your hospitals and being able to make sure that people stay alive.”
The territory recently recorded it ninth coronavirus-related death, a St. Croix man in his 40s who was undergoing dialysis and and had diabetes. The eighth death was an older man on St. Thomas. The seventh death was a 23-year-old pregnant woman.
Bryan said his decision to keep the territory open during the pandemic allowed the government to collect much-needed funds to keep government operations afloat.
“I think my team has done an excellent job,” he added.