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DHS To Close Food Stamp Office For 2 Days After Staffer Tests Positive For COVID-19

FREDERIKSTED —- The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS), confirmed that it is closing the Mars Hill SNAP and Medicaid Offices in St. Croix as a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.

The building will be closed on both Monday, July 19 and Tuesday, July 20, 2021, while DHS activates COVID-19 mitigation protocols and cleans the facility.

DHS is also working with the Department of Health to ensure contact tracing and staff members have been referred to Pop-Up testing sites. The St. Croix SNAP and Medicaid offices will re-open on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

It is at least the second time since March that DHS has been forced to close its offices in Frederiksted due to coronavirus exposure.

In the meantime, clients may contact the following numbers and e-mail addresses as staff will be
working remotely:

St. Croix SNAP office:

• (340) 725 – 5697
• (340) 774 -2399
• 340) 725-5738
• Certofficestx@dhs.vi.gov
St. Croix Medicaid office:
• (340) 725-6198
• (340) 725-5671
• stxmap@dhs.vi.gov
• specialservicesmap@dhs.vi.gov
• providerrelationsmap@dhs.vi.gov

All other DHS offices will continue their normal operations. In an abundance of caution, employees that are identified as Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) by the DOH must produce a COVID-19 negative test before returning to work.

Current Actions Being Taken

• A notification was sent to all staff advising of the COVID-19 positive results.

DHS has referred staff to Pop-Up testing sites.

• The facility has been and will continue to be cleaned and sanitized according to protocol.
• DHS COVID-19 mitigation protocols continue to be emphasized with staff and include, masking of all staff, temperatures being taken before staff can enter the facility, self-attestation regarding potential exposure etc.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread between people who are in close contact with one another (about 6 feet). The virus is spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

Please be reminded to maintain CDC best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

• Wear your mask (covering your nose and mouth while in the workplace).
• Maintain social distance.
• Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds, often.
• Wear appropriate other PPE while in contact with other staff or clients.
• Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol when you cannot your wash hands.
• Routinely clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces.
• Share FACTS, not rumors.

For general information, please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/usvidhs) at US Virgin Islands Department of Human Services.

If you are experiencing any of the coronavirus symptoms listed on the Department of Health website (listed below), self-quarantine and immediately contact the Department of Health:

• V.I. DOH website: https://doh.vi.gov/
• COVID-19 Hotline: (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519

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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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