Department of Health Responds to Claims that the USVI Could Top the World in Per Capita Deaths

St. Croix, US Virgin Islands — The Department of Health is significantly concerned that researchers and news sources have published that the mortality rate for COVID-19 in the U.S. Virgin Islands could top the world in per capita pandemic deaths.

The predictions made were based upon a single IMHE statistical model that has been frequently criticized. It has been previously reported that this model was incorrect 70% of the time. COVID-19 is unpredictable, but these models are also extremely unreliable if used to predict cases or deaths months or even weeks into the future. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a combination of models of which there are 14 currently available for the USVI. These models can be found at: (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/covid-data/pdf/Consolidated-Forecasts-Incident-Cumulative-Deaths-2020-08-31.pdf).

The consensus of those individual model predictions by the CDC have proven more accurate and suggest that the Virgin Islands is now expected to endure one death each week into October. This is in stark contrast to the single prediction circulated. The Virgin Islands is currently within the lowest 25% of states and jurisdictions for mortality per capita for COVID-19. The USVI has suffered 19 deaths for approximately 100,000 persons. In comparison, those states that have endured the worst have COVID-19 deaths rates that total as high as 150-180 per 100,000 persons. 

It is unfortunate that inaccurate and unreliable information has been frequently circulated nationwide and even here in the territory. We have been providing the public with thorough, accurate, and timely information regarding COVID-19 and our response. We encourage local news agencies to contact our local experts at the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health, do their due diligence in consulting multiple sources, and refrain from sensationalism during these trying times. Recommendations from Government House and Department of Health may diverge or conservative than federal guidance or mortality predictions from national reports, based on data and understanding only available locally.

The department continues to work with other agencies in taking unprecedented actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. You should continue to follow these precautionary measures: stay at home, practice social distancing, wear a mask when in company of others outside of those in your household, clean frequently used areas thoroughly, and wash your hands often with soap and warm water.

To report a suspected case of COVID-19, please call (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. For more information, visit covid19usvi.com. For COVID-19 updates, text COVID19USVI to 888777.