St. Croix, US Virgin Islands (June 21, 2020) The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health has confirmed five new cases of COVID-19 disease. This brings the territory's total confirmed cases to seventy-six—thirty-three on Croix, thirty-nine on St. Thomas, and four on St. John.
The most recent two St. Croix cases were a traveler and a community-acquired individual. The community-aquired case is associated with Hangovah Daiquiris in the United Shopping Plaza on St. Croix.
You may have been exposed to the virus if you visited Hangovah Daiquiris on Wednesday, June 17.
The latest St. John case was community-acquired, which means that we cannot determine how the individual contracted the virus. The individual was not a contact of a confirmed case and was not a traveler. We do not yet have community spread as this is the first community-acquired case on St. John.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, "Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected."
The infected person on St. John traveled to St. Thomas from St. John by ferry at 7 a.m. on June 18 before knowing that they had tested positive for the coronavirus. Out of an abundance of caution, the Virgin Islands Department of Health informed all passengers on that 7 a.m. ferry of their possible exposure to the virus.
However, the likelihood that anyone contracted the virus on the ferry is very low since the person was wearing a mask. If you were on that ferry and would like to get tested, please call the Department of Health's Epidemiology Division at (340) 776-1519 or (340) 712-6299.
More importantly, those on the ferry were instructed to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days starting from June 18 and, if symptomatic, call the Epidemiology hotline. Symptoms are fever, chills, muscle pain, or cough and often can be just one of those and can also be mild.
Because most confirmed cases tend to be travel-related, it is especially critical to monitor yourself during and after travel. During this self-monitoring period, it is important to avoid close contact with others, including those you may live with. Even for non-travelers, it is paramount to understand the risk of transmission among those you may have close contact with. Social distancing is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission.
According to the CDC, social distancing is "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining physical distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.
Health officials, in collaboration with other agencies, continue to closely monitor the global outbreak and build capacity to prevent the spread of the disease in the territory and to detect positive cases.
The department's Epidemiology Division continues to provide testing, conduct contact tracing, and assist healthcare providers and the public with up-to-date education as to what to do to prevent additional cases.
While the risk of severe illness for most is low, the risk for transmission is high, and precautions must still be taken to avoid widespread transmission within our community.
A person may also get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
To avoid COVID-19 and help prevent its spread, Department of Health officials recommend the following steps:
· Limit socializing and close contact with others, as persons without symptoms can still transmit the virus.
· While sick, avoid contact with others.
· Avoid persons with cold or flu-like symptoms.
· Stay home if you are sick.
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and discard the tissue. Wash your hands immediately. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
· Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
· Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60 percent alcohol.
With restaurants being open for dine-in services, there are more risks associated with leisure activities outside of the home. Masks or facial coverings should be worn by all bar and restaurant patrons and should be worn at all times except when eating or drinking. Patrons should wear facial coverings when they leave their seats or when they are waiting for food or drinks.
ALL staff should wear masks or facial coverings. Shields without coverings over the nose and mouth are not allowed. Shields are not to be worn alone.
The most common COVID-19 symptoms reported include fever, chills, cough, and shortness of breath. It spreads mostly between people who are in close contact via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Persons who have contracted COVID-19 are most likely to spread it when they are most symptomatic.
This means they are more likely to spread it to others when they are sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends avoiding non-essential travel to any location as well as no cruise ship travel. Older adults and those with underlying health issues are particularly vulnerable and should avoid crowded places and non-essential air travel to decrease their risk for virus transmission.
If you are experiencing symptoms like a cough, fever, chills, or shortness of breath, or have traveled anywhere in the last 14 days, or have had contact with a confirmed case please self-quarantine and call (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
These phone numbers are only to be used if you meet the criteria above and suspect you may have the virus. You will be given instructions on what to do next, and that may include isolating yourself from others.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911.
For more information, visit doh.vi.gov/coronavirus or cdc.gov/covid19. For updates, text COVID19USVI to 888777.