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USVI No Longer Has Lowest Vaccination Rate In USA; Vaxxed Patient Is 66th Death

CHRISTIANSTED — Territorial epidemiologist Esther Ellis revealed that the USVI now has had one COVID-19-related death in a fully-vaccinated person.

“Therefore, 98.5 percent of our deaths have been among unvaccinated individuals,” Ellis said.

The vaccine was developed to lower the risk of transmission and lowers the risk of hospitalization and death, but it cannot completely protect individuals from the effects of COVID-19.

“Still take all the precautions that we have discussed, even if you are vaccinated,” Ellis said.

In the United States, 2,675 vaccinated individuals with COVID-19 have died, and 87 percent of those deaths were in those over 65, Ellis said.

The territory’s vaccination rate is currently at 52.4 percent for those 18 years and older, which is an uptick compared to previous weeks.

Ellis attributed this increase to a couple factors. “As a result of our community seeing a lot of deaths. That’s an unfortunate motivator, and also there are a lot of incentive programs out there right now.”

As far as vaccination rate rankings go, the U.S. Virgin Islands is no longer the lowest. The lowest state is Alabama with a 35 percent vaccination rate, followed by Arkansas and Arizona. “We’re in the bottom 10, so we’re not the lowest anymore, which is great. But we are still very low compared to other states. One of the highest is Maine, with over 70 percent of their population fully vaccinated,” Ellis said.

Government House communication director Richard Motta was questioned on Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s position on vaccine mandates following President Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandates for federal employees.

“Currently, we are encouraging all Virgin Islanders to get the vaccine, hence all the incentive programs,” Motta said. “That is his stance at this moment until we have exhausted all the possibilities that we have, and all the tools and incentives that we have, there’s no plans for a vaccine mandate.”

The U.S. Virgin Islands is in the bottom five of U.S. states and territories in the rate of residents who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 – 52.4 percent – and recorded its first death of a fully vaccinated patient last week, bringing the total to 66 fatalities.

Nine of those 66 individuals have died since September 1.

Ellis said in the weekly press conference on Monday afternoon that there were 229 active cases in the territory with one person hospitalized on St. Croix and three at the Schneider Regional Medical Center. One patient is breathing on a ventilator, she said.

Several weeks ago, Governor Albert Bryan talked about leveling mandates for government and healthcare workers but has backed away since then and repeated his change of heart over the last two weeks.

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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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