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Bryan Moves USVI Back To ‘Safer at Home’ Status; 18 Now Dead From COVID-19

CHRISTIANSTED — During his weekly press briefing this afternoon, Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. allowed a number of restrictions under the “Stay at Home” order to expire, effectively moving the territory up to “Safer at Home” status, meaning that nonessential businesses are allowed to reopen.

Details were sketchy on the 18th victim of COVID-19 in the territory. The Virgin Islands Department of Health would only say that a 68-year-old woman on St. Croix was the latest confirmed death from coronavirus disease.

Meanwhile, Governor Bryan said the territory is scheduled to resume leisure travel on September 19, which means that hotels, Airbnbs, villas and other tourist accommodations may begin taking reservations again.

During this current phase, visitation to nursing homes and senior assisted living facilities remains prohibited, bars are to remain closed and beaches are to close at 4 p.m. on weekends.

“We understand that COVID doesn’t know what time it is, but our decision to close the beaches at 4 p.m. is to discourage the partying and gatherings that traditionally occur on our beaches in the late afternoon hours,” Bryan said. “The restriction on gatherings greater than 50 persons and the requirements of facial coverings and social distancing remain in effect.”

During the “Safer at Home” phase, restaurants will be allowed to resume dine-in operations under the following conditions:

  • No serving of alcohol at bar counters
  • No more than six persons per table
  • Tables must be six feet apart
  • Employees must wear facial coverings at all times
  • Patrons should wear facial coverings whenever they are not seated at a table

Other restrictions that have changed under the “Safer at Home” status include:

  • Churches and houses of worship may reopen with a maximum of 50 people and will be allowed to serve communion according to guidelines of the Virgin Islands Department of Health
  • Casinos and gaming establishments may reopen beginning September 19 under protocols established by the Department of Health and the Casino Commission
  • Private school campuses are allowed to reopen provided that they adhere to Department of Health guidelines
  • All visitors and residents must provide proof of a negative PCR test to enter the territory or must go into 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

The governor also said that he expects testing at the territory’s airports to begin by the end of the month. He also said that the situation remains fluid and restrictions could change at any time.

“We are moving toward this new phase because our locally owned small businesses can not sustain a continued indefinite closure,” Bryan said. “I have to remind the public that since I last addressed you that we have lost four more Virgin Islanders to this virus. It remains deadly and it remains serious.

“As a community, we are trying to find a new normal. Our success in this endeavor is dependent on our willingness to adhere to the health guidelines and restrictions,” the governor said. “Although we are now in week three of the moratorium on leisure guests, the virus is still being transmitted through person-to-person contact. This continues to be the most prevalent mode of transmission for the virus. We must all commit to doing our part to keep each other safe.”

Unemployment

To date, the Virgin Islands Department of Labor (VIDOL) has issued 35,595  unemployment insurance checks totaling more than $27,255,795.

The department also has issued 26,696 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation checks totaling $40,644,420.

VIDOL has issued $2,230,191 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to self-employed Virgin Islanders and $66,673 in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

In total, the Bryan-Roach Administration has issued 63,453 checks totaling $70,912,000. Which is an increase of $3 million since last week, through the Virgin Islands Department of Labor.

P-EBT

  • To date, all current SNAP recipients eligible for P-EBT benefits should have seen the funds added to their accounts.
  • The benefit is a one-time benefit of $379.62 per child in kindergarten through 12th grade for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Non-SNAP clients should have received notice last week via mail that their cards are being sent.
  • Residents who qualify but have not received a P-EBT card by mail or benefits on their existing accounts by September 14 should contact P-EBT customer service at 340-772-7120 or pebt@dhs.vi.gov

COVID-19 cases

Currently tracking 103 active cases

17,495 individuals tested to date (more than 17% of the population)

16,253 of those tests were negative

1,191 tests came back positive

1,070 people have recovered

18 deaths to date

Two COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, with one of them on a ventilator, at the Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix.

Seven COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, with four of them on a ventilator, at the Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.

The last time the territory was moved to Safer At Home status by the governor was May 4.

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