In His Weekly Update On COVID-19, Governor Albert Bryan Barely Mentions A 15th Death
CHRISTIANSTED — The Virgin Islands Department of Health said that a 49-year-old man on St. Thomas became the 15th victim of COVID-19 in the territory.
Governor Albert Bryan, Jr., as is his custom in the weekly coronavirus “updates” — played down the fact that a healthy U.S. Virgin Islander cut down in the prime of his life because the chief executive — chose “dollars over lives” on June 1.
St. Thomian and Crucian lives were needlessly lost in that feckless decision to grab after “drops-in-a-barrel” tourism dollars when the territory was reeling from COVID-19 and expecting a full federal bailout.
Bryan, pretentiously wearing a bow-tie ala Malcom X, regurgitated details about why he extended the “Stay-at-Home” order until September 8.
Instead of focusing on the coronavirus recent dead, Bryan tried to distract the territory’s attention from the fact that the U.S. Virgin Islands has the most poorly-performing public school system in all of America.
U.S. Virgin Islanders have a choice of joining a “gangsters’ Paradise” — and dying an ugly, repugnant, violent death — or not being able to survive at all — because they have no marketable trade skills to try to enter the working class here.
Bryan, the Labor Commissioner for eight years under Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. said, when it comes to the USVI’s public schools, they will remain closed. He said reopening is pie-in-the-sky set for September 14.
Meanwhile, the comments on social media, were not complimentary of the Malcolm X-imitating Caribbean governor from St. Croix.
“I would like to know how come for three weeks nobody answers the phone at dept. of labor and when somebody answer the phone tranfer to another extension and nobody answer the phone,” Benjamin Morales asked on Facebook tonight. “At the end I haven’t be able to talk to a supervisor o anybody. We paid for unemployment the employers paid for unemployment. Why we haven’t get out money since March? The only thing that I received was the approval letter but not the checks.
“Somebody need to do something please I wrote s letter at the website left voice message and nobody care! Nobody! The worst Department of Labor ever! The employees do not know what it is to have empathy or any other value to help others! Why the ask to leave a message if nobody going to call you? Very angry at this point.”
The Virgin Islands Free Press has learned that the stateside people answering the phones for the Virgin Islands Department of Labor under Bryan are telling claimants to expect a two-week wait for their questions to be answered, if at all. Operators are saying that there are two people in the territory assigned to responding to ALL of the unemployment claims in the U.S Virgin Islands.
Meanwhile, in his press conference on COVID-19, Bryan chose to speak in general terms — that can’t bounce back on him politically.
“While we are seeing a welcomed drop in the positivity rate, the number of infections attributed to community spread and the number of hospitalizations is not where we would like to see them,” Bryan said. “Suffice to say, we believe the Stay-at-Home order has been effective in reducing the spread of the virus, and we look forward to relaxing those restrictions next week if these trends continue.”
The Chief Executive also reminded residents that their compliance with the Stay-at-Home restrictions is vital to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
“We simply ask that you all just do the right thing. The only way to get through this is to adhere to the health guidelines,” Governor Bryan said. “We will not beat COVID while attending parties, get-togethers and other mass gatherings or being in close quarters with individuals while not following the masking guidelines.
“It doesn’t matter if they are your friends or family. There is no way you can know their recent exposure to the virus,” the Governor said. “Be smart and be responsible. That is the only way you can guarantee your safety and the safety of the family members in your house.”
Delayed Opening of Schools
Governor Bryan’s decision to delay the opening of the schools means that all school campuses – including those of parochial and private schools – remain closed.
“The decision for this delay was to ensure the safety of our teachers, faculty and staff who were scheduled to return to our campuses this week,” Governor Bryan said. “However, the Department of Education continues to progress with its school reopening plans, and we are looking forward to a safe and successful start to what will be an unprecedented school year.”
Matching Fund Refinancing
After thanking the eight members of the 33rd Legislature – Senate President Novelle Francis Jr. and Senators Alicia Barnes, Marvin Blyden, Allison DeGazon, Donna Frett-Gregory, Stedmann Hodge, Myron Jackson and Athneil “Bobby” Thomas – Governor Bryan addressed some of the misinformation about refinancing the bonds backed by the Internal Revenue Matching Fund.
“There has been a lot of misinformation placed on the record and shared in the community. That information has led some people to believe that this transaction carries greater risk than it actually does,” Governor Bryan said. “On its face, it is a simple refinancing of our bonds that is only complicated by the poor credit rating of the Government of the Virgin Islands.”
Last week’s Senate approval only authorizes the Bryan/Roach Administration to fully explore the opportunity with the necessary parties.
“The opportunity to refinance existing debt in a way that addresses our urgent financial needs is too promising to ignore,” Governor Bryan said. “At the very least, we believe we can present a plan that generates additional cash flow for the Government of the Virgin Islands for the next decade.”
The Department of Human Services has begun issuing P-EBT benefits to families with school-age children who qualified for the School Lunch Program.
Students and families who are current SNAP recipients were among the first to receive P-EBT benefits, which were applied to their SNAP card balances. Physical cards are being mailed and should be received within the next two weeks. Cards have been sent to the addresses provided by the schools, and recipients.
“I want to assure the public that everyone who is entitled to this benefit will receive it,” Governor Bryan said.
- To date, the Virgin Islands Department of Labor (VIDOL) has issued 4,045 unemployment insurance checks totaling more than $26 million.
- The department also has issued 26,284 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation checks totaling $40 million.
- VIDOL has issued $1,325,057 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to self-employed Virgin Islanders and $526,030 in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
- In total, the Bryan-Roach Administration has issued 60,983 checks totaling $67,817,467 through the Virgin Islands Department of Labor.
- Currently tracking 222 active cases
- 16,250 individuals tested to date (more than 16% of the population)
- 15,100 of those tests were negative
- 1,134 tests came back positive
- 898 people have recovered
- 15 fatalities to date
- Two COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, with one of them on a ventilator, at Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix.
- Nine COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, with one of them on a ventilator, at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.
Bryan’s father, bank manager Albert Bryan, Sr., was accused of looting on St. Croix in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.