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It Took 3 Months To Recover From COVID-19, But For Sam The Sailor, St. Thomas Is A Place He Won’t Soon Forget

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — When Puerto Rico turned the freighter he was on away from its “rich” port in early May, things looked grim indeed for Sam the Sailor.

After all, Sam the Sailor was confirmed to have COVID-19. If the couldn’t find a port to take him soon, his health was so precarious that he might not make it all the way to Florida.

Next stop was the U.S. Virgin Islands. And, luckily, Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. decided that Sam the Sailor could be evacuated off of his vessel and admitted to the Schneider Regional Medical Center for emergency medical treatment in St. Thomas on May 7.

Rolly Tolentino, a.k.a. “Sam The Sailor,” is released from the hospital on Friday morning.

That was nearly three months ago. On Friday morning, “Sam The Sailor” got a send-off worthy of any local celebrity.

Turns out Sam The Sailor’s his real name is Rolly Tolentino. The 47-year-old was discharged from the St. Thomas hospital hale and healthy, following his full recuperation from the coronavirus disease.

Now that Tolentino has been confirmed to be COVID-19-free by the health professionals at SRMC, he will be returning home to his native land the Philippines, according to Schneider Hospital officials.

The governor dubbed Tolentino “Sam the Sailor” to protect his privacy when he would give updates on “Sam’s” condition during COVID-19 press briefings.

Bryan told “Sam the Sailor” that he is always welcome in the U.S. Virgin Islands after he was released from Schneider Hospital on Friday morning.

Sam The Sailor leaving the St. Thomas hospital in an ambulance on Friday morning.

During a bon voyage send-off at the hospital, Schneider Interim CEO Dr. Luis Amaro and St. Thomas-St. John-Water Island Administrator Avery Lewis escorted Tolentino, while hospital staff lined the hallways cheering and applauding.

“It is great to see our tradition of holding out a welcome to one and all was not in vain,” Bryan said. “Much thanks to our healthcare workers and the staff at Schneider Hospital for nursing our guest back to health. We wish Sam the Sailor Godspeed and hope he knows he will always have a home in the Virgin Islands.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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