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Jif Peanut Butter Under Recall For Potential Salmonella Contamination

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating an outbreak of salmonella infections that is possibly linked to Jif peanut butter products.

The J.M. Smucker Company issued a voluntary recall for its creamy, crunchy, natural and reduced fat peanut butter products that were distributed nationwide, with lot code numbers 1274425 to 2140425, the FDA announced this weekend.

Currently, 14 people have reported illnesses and two of those cases have resulted in hospitalizations, according to data provided by the CDC.

“Five out of five people reported consuming peanut butter and four of the five people specifically reported consuming different varieties of Jif brand peanut butter prior to becoming ill,” the FDA said.

What is salmonella?

Salmonella itself is a bacteria, but the illness it causes is known as salmonellosis.

For many infected people, symptoms appear 12 to 72 hours after contact and often include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, according to the FDA. Most people who are infected recover within four to seven days and do not need any treatment.

More serious and severe cases can occur, though, so the FDA recommends contacting your health care provider if you believe you have been infected.

Several varieties of peanut butter are being recalled nationwide

The J. M. Smucker Co. said the peanut butter it is recalling was distributed in retail stores and other outlets throughout the country. It includes creamy, crunchy and natural varieties, along with many others.

The recalled products have lot code numbers between 1274425 – 2140425 and include the numbers 425 for the 5th-7th digits. “425” in that position indicates that it was processed in the Lexington facility.

This information is usually printed on the back label of the jar. A list of recalled products and their numbers can be seen on the FDA’s website.

If you happen to have a jar included in the recall, you should throw it away immediately.

The FDA noted that the peanut butter has a two-year shelf life so consumers should check any Jif peanut butter already in their home.

After throwing the peanut butter out, the CDC recommends washing and sanitizing any surfaces or containers that might have come into contact with the peanut butter.

No word as yet from the local Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) as to whether the affected products were shipped to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Bryan Mansplains Why Sudden Closing Of Nightclub Prior To Concert Was Needed

CHRISTIANSTED — During Tuesday’s Government House weekly press briefing, Governor Albert Bryan tried to clarify the protocols governing bars and nightclubs in the territory.

The COVID-19 Task Force closed down the Bliss Bar & Lounge located at 45C Estate Glynn on Saturday night in advance of a planned Halloween concert on October 31 in which entertainers had been brought in from off-island to perform.

Department of Health Director of Environmental Health Wanson Harris, who also directs the enforcement efforts of the COVID-19 Task Force, explained the directives his officers followed were dictated by the 30 executive orders that the governor which made the closure necessary in the public health interest.

The COVID-19 Task Force is a hodgepodge of government agencies that includes the Department of Health, the V.I. Police Department, the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the Waste Management Authority and other entities seeking to keep the pandemic under control in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“I try to be as fair as possible in my judgement. I don’t make my decisions based on what people are saying on the radio and Facebook. I base them on the facts,” Bryan said, noting that he has been trying to bring some relief to club owners while keeping the safety, health and well-being of residents at the forefront during the pandemic.

Bryan Mansplains Why Sudden Closing Of Nightclub Prior To Concert Was Needed
Shuttered Bliss Bar & Lounge located in Estate Glynn on St. Croix.

“I made a decision for the businesses, especially the club owners and the DJs. We’ve been trying to do something for them for a long time,” Governor Bryan said. “We’re trying to do this, but we want to make sure everybody is still safe, because it’s been a year and a half that some of these clubs have been closed. I was in the states last week and people are up and down the place and they don’t have any masks, but they have 10 hospitals. We have one.”

The current protocols governing bars and nightclubs, as well as allowing dancing in establishments, went into effect on Friday, October 29, and all of Governor Bryan’s executive orders are available to the public at vi.gov.

Eight percent wage repayment

Bryan also said checks for the eight percent wage repayment from the 2011 V.I. Economic Stability Act are set to go out next week, and he reminded residents to check the Division of Personnel website (dopusvi.org) and make sure their information in the Personnel database regarding the 8 percent repayment is correct..

To do so, click on the tab at the top of the web page for “Employees” then click the link that says “8% Salary Restoration.” The website also contains instructions for the survivors of government employees who are deceased and are owed money to receive those funds.

Pop-Up Vaccinations

Residents can get vaccinated at no cost at the Community Vaccination Center (CVC) located in each district; both facilities accept scheduled appointments and walk-up requests for the vaccine.

Pop-Up vaccinations are available:

•    Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. at Cost-U-Less on St. Thomas

•    Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Charles Harwood Complex on St. Croix

•    Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m.  at the V.I. Port Authority Gravel Lot on St. Croix.

The Department of Health expects to share information in the future regarding COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11.

Anyone 12 and older is eligible to receive the vaccine. Please make sure to have a parent or guardian accompany any minor wishing to get vaccinated and must bring an ID for both the minor and the parent or guardian. 

For information about the COVID-19 vaccines or to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated, call the VITEMA hotline Mondays-Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 340-777-VACS (8227). Vaccination appointments also can be scheduled online at covid19usvi.com/vaccines.

Anyone who thinks they may have contracted COVID-19 can call the Epidemiology hotline at 340-712-6299 or 340-776-1519. For more information, visit covid19usvi.com.

COVID-19 cases as of November 2

•    2.13% seven-day positivity rate

•    Currently tracking 89 active cases (82 STX; 7 STT; 0 STJ).

•    207,400 individuals tested to date.

•    7,233 individuals tested positive.

•    7,063 individuals have recovered.

•    81 fatalities.

•    There is 1 COVID-19 patient hospitalized, who is on a ventilator, at Juan F. Luis Medical Center on St. Croix.

•    There are no COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.

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Attorney General Denise George Says She’s Been A Victim Of Identity Theft On Twitter

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Attorney General says that she’s been a victim of identity theft.

AG Denise George said scammers are sending text messages attempting to impersonate her with a fake Twitter account.

“The fraudulent messages in the name of Attorney General George, encourage some of the recipients to donate to
a charity and notify others about a voucher program that they may be eligible for,” George said.

The Virgin Islands Department of Justice (VIDOJ) was made aware of the Twitter account that claims to be managed by the Virgin Islands Attorney General, according to George.

The account currently has several followers.

AG George is “urging everyone to remain skeptical when receiving random messages, whether by Twitter, email, or otherwise.”

“Text messages from unknown sources may offer hyperlinks to other sites and is one way scammers can install malware on your mobile electronic device, putting you at increased risk for identity theft and financial exploitation.,” she said.

Examples of the fraudulent Twitter messages sent from the account are below. (The recipient’s information has been redacted to maintain privacy.)

Attorney General Denise George Says She's Been A Victim Of Identity Theft On Twitter

The fake account in Attorney General George’s name attempts to solicit charitable donations.

“Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of goodwill and generosity by creating fictitious charitable organizations, seeking fraudulent donations by taking money which could otherwise go to those in need. The initial communication could come in any form- letter, phone call, email or text message. No matter the form, the goal is the same: to get personal or business information and steal money. I encourage anyone who receives these suspicious messages to delete it,” AG George.said.

AG George further reminds everyone to disregard texts asking for the verification of personal data, including Medicare or Medicaid information, in exchange for receiving economic stimulus funds or other benefits from the government. Government agencies or officials are not sending out emails asking for residents’ personal information to receive funds. She said If you receive a text or email from any source claiming to come from a government agency o employee with an attachment or link asking you to open it or click on it, do not do it until you verify it is authentic.

If you have any information on the fake Twitter account please call Department of Justice at 340-
774-5666 ext. 10351.

For information regarding SCAM prevention, assistance, and up-to-date tips, please visit:

• The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs consumerawareness@dlca.vi.gov

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Government Wants People Doing Short-Term Rentals To Pay Hotel Room Tax

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Commissioner Richard Evangelista of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs said that effective today DLCA is ready to issue a business license for the operation of a short-term rental. 

A short-term rental is an establishment primarily engaged in providing accommodations for less than ninety (90) days tourist/vacation rentals in private homes, condominiums, or villas (except hotels, motels, casino hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns). 

DLCA created two (2) categories of short-term rental licenses. The first license is called a “Short Term Rental A” created for an establishment that can accommodate five (5) or more persons costing $260.00 per year.  The second license, Short Term Rental B”, was created for an establishment that can accommodate up to four (4) persons with a cost of $195.00 per year.

Some persons may ask DLCA, why now?  A short-term rental business license achieves a couple of positive things for the United States Virgin Islands: 

  1. It allows the Government of The Virgin Islands to collect the Hotel Room Occupancy tax from persons engaged in short term rentals who are not a member of Airbnb.  As of June 1, 2017, the Government of the Virgin Islands and Airbnb entered into an agreement that allows Airbnb to collect the 12.5% Hotel Room Occupancy Tax on behalf of homeowners and remit payment to the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue.  The collection and remittance of the Hotel Room Occupancy tax from members of other short term rental groups or independents relies on an honor system. 
  2. It allows the Government of The Virgin Islands to collect taxes from persons who are engaged in the lucrative business of short-term rentals.
  3. It enables Homeowner’s Associations (HOA) to monitor its neighborhoods to ensure compliance with its bylaws regarding short-term rentals.  Some HOA’s permit long-term rentals but not short-term rentals for varied reasons.    

DLCA looks forward to assisting persons/businesses, currently holding apartment rental business licenses, to convert to a short-term rental license if applicable when it is time for renewal.

For additional information or to apply for the Short-Term Rental A or B business license, customers may contact the Licensing Division at (340) 713-3522 in the District of St. Croix and (340) 714-3522 in the District of St. Thomas & St. John. 

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Supermarkets Must Produce Price Lists For DLCA Prior To Hurricane Season Beginning

CHRISTIANSTED — DLCA gave fair warning to the territory’s highly-overpaid supermarkets today — if you try to overcharge after a natural catastrophe — we’ve got you’re number.

DLCA Commissioner Richard “Ricky” Evangelista told merchants that their first monthly Hurricane Price List submission for the 2021 hurricane season is due on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. 

Every year, at the onset of hurricane season, DLCA requests businesses to furnish an official price list of their goods and merchandise in stock, and for the services they offer to the public, according to Evangelista, who is also a licensed attorney.

This information is required by law as a protective measure for all consumers in the event of an emergency and to prevent speculative practices related to those goods and services of primary need which are essential to face and recover from such emergencies. After the submission of the first price list, businesses must continue to submit an updated price list on the first of each month, until November 30, 2021. If a business has not changed its prices or acquired new products/services; they can submit a certified letter stating the previous price is still valid. 

The request for a price list primarily targets businesses whose goods and services are necessary for hurricane preparation and recovery at all levels of Virgin Islands distribution and marketing. Businesses that must submit price lists include, but are not limited to, all retailers, wholesalers, producers, manufacturers, importers and providers of food items, water, beverages, general supplies, health and medical care products, fuel, rents, construction goods and services, clothing, furnishings, and others such goods and services as are deemed appropriate under the circumstances presented. It shall include commercial establishments and service providers such as supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, water and delivery businesses, laundromats, contractors, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engineers, mechanics and masons.

Failure to submit a price list or certification letter by the first of each month, may subject a non-compliant business to administrative fines of up to $200 for each item sold or service provided in violation of the law in accordance with 11 VIR&R § 1015-1 and 3 V.I.C. § 272(b)(5). Businesses may retrieve a sample price list form by visiting our website at www.dlca.vi.gov then click the Forms tab at the top of the page.  Kindly submit your business price list by emailing hurricanepricelist@dlca.vi.gov. Businesses should also be reminded that the Price Freeze Order dated March 13, 2020 is still in effect on all items relative to the fight against COVID-19. As such, businesses shall not increase the cost of those items without approval from DLCA.

Consumers or Merchants with questions may contact the Consumer Affairs Division on St. Croix at 713-3522, on St. Thomas at 714-3522, or on St. John at 693-8036.  

For consumer related issues, you may email us at consumerawareness@dlca.vi.gov or call our hotlines to report scams or alleged price gouging at 340.727.SCAM(7226) on St. Croix or St. Thomas/St. John at 340.771.SCAM(7226). Follow us on Facebook @dlcavi.