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Secrecy Surrounds Winners Of ‘Vax To Win USVI’ Lottery Drawing … None Announced

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Two lucky people won $200,000 in the first ever General Vaccine Lottery on Friday — but Government House, the program itself and lottery officials — all won’t say who won.

Governor Albert Bryan announced in late June that under his promotional campaign “Vax To Win USVI” one $100,000 winner would be drawn on St. Thomas and one $100,000 winner would be drawn from St. Croix for ten weeks starting on July 9.

But as on today, neither the Vax To Win USVI program nor the Virgin Islands Lottery on their websites — said who won the drawing held on Friday.

Neither did Government House — or Governor Bryan say on their Facebook pages who the two lucky lottery winners were in the territory.

Bryan said June 26 that the Virgin Islands Lottery would be managing the special vaccine lotteries — one for general residents — and one for Department of Education employees.

The governor announced the promotional program in a June 7 press conference, saying that $1 million would be given out over the course of 10 weeks in $100,000 increments territory-wide starting on July 6.

But on June 26, Bryan said in another Government House press conference that the program had been expanded by $1 million and that $100,000 winners from St. Thomas and $100,000 winners on St. Croix would be drawn starting on July 9. He said the program would still run for 10 weeks, but that now 10 winners from each district would win a cumulative $1 million.

Lottery drawings in the territory typically take place at the V.I. Lottery’s offices in St. Thomas at 81CC & 81D Kronprindsens Gade (the former Scotia Bank location on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront).

The regular V.I. Lottery drawings are normally broadcast live over the radio for transparency reasons — but the local lottery system apparently took a different tack with this special vaccine drawing for only two people — because the results are still not known fully two days later. .

But readers of the Virgin Islands Free Press today did not seem to be too concerned by the Bryan Administration’s apparent lack of transparency.

“In a place the size of the Virgin Islands would you want to be identified as the winner of $100,000?” Monica Oheema Harrigan said on Facebook. “Also, there are HIPAA rules to follow. Wouldn’t identifying winners by name indicate that they’ve been vaccinated which would be a HIPAA violation?”

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It is a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

Meanwhile, from past experience, the Virgin Islands Lottery does not respond to press inquiries phoned in or emailed to them over the weekend — true to form, the lottery system and the website vaxtowinusvi.com did not respond to requests for information about the two lottery winners.

Of all the agencies of the Virgin Islands government, the Virgin Islands Lottery is one of the least responsive to public questions and inquiries from the press.

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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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