VI Department of Health Confirm Plans to Continue Tracking COVID Cases Post Emergency Response

The VI Department of Health reported a slight uptick in the Territory’s active COVID cases with a positivity rate of 3.3 percent. There are a total of 10 active cases territory-wide; 6 on St. Croix, 4 on St. Thomas and 0 on St. John. The department is also reporting the recent loss a 62-year-old St. Thomas woman due to COVID, bringing the number of deaths to 131.

The department encourages the community to become vaccinated and boosted against COVID while supplies are available.

“We have been reporting that the public health emergency ends on May 11, however, the US Department of Health and Human Services will extend important benefits to ensure continued access to the vaccine and treatment, as long as supplies last,” said Justa Encarnacion, VI Health Commissioner. “COVID-19 remains a public health priority; thus, the VI Department of Health will continue to provide the COVID vaccine to the community and in line with the US DHH. This will continue free for as long as supplies last to everyone age 6 months or older.”

For information about the locations and times for vaccines, please call our offices at 340-718-1311 on St. Croix, 340-774-7477 for adults on St. Thomas, and 340-777-8804 ext. 2600 for children on St. Thomas. On St. John, visit the V.I. Port Authority Gravel Lot, on Wednesdays, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Latest news reports have indicated that, once the public health emergency ends, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) will no longer monitor COVID in local communities. However, the CDC has indicated it will not stop tracking COVID-19 and sharing data, but it will change the frequency of reporting and, vaccine administration data might be reduced in some areas. 

“The VI Department of Health will continue to track and report active covid cases moving forward,” Commissioner Encarnacion said. “Each State and Territory gets to decide if COVID-19 remains reportable in their jurisdiction and for the USVI it will remain a reportable disease. Most States and territories are leaving it as reportable and will release their data just as they have been doing.”

As we near the end of the public health emergency, the VI Health Department is shifting focus on the potential long-standing effects of COVID. Medical communities describe the post COVID syndrome known as Long COVID, as a multifaceted disease that can affect nearly every organ in the body. Long COVID is not one condition but instead, possibly several overlapping conditions, with different causes and with different sets of risk factors.

Long COVID is described by the signs, symptoms, and conditions that persist beyond an active COVID case, or which develop long after recovery from an infection. There are currently about 200 symptoms that have been identified involving almost every part of the body. Long COVID symptoms can develop as much as four weeks after the initial phase of the infection as a brand-new onset chronic disease, including heart disease, diabetes, kidney, hematologic (blood) diseases or as mental and neurological conditions. 

“These diseases can simultaneously involve multiple systems including cardiovascular, respiratory, or the nervous system,” Commissioner Encarnacion said. “And, very important to know, the Long COVID symptoms can relapse and then reoccur with progressive worsening over time, leading to the possibility of severe and life-threatening episodes sometimes months or years after infection.” 

The Department will be tracking the cases of Long COVID in the territory and providing support to the providers as recommendations are developed.

If you are experiencing persistent symptoms after having a COVID infection, please report this to your doctor. Becoming vaccinated against COVID-19 and remaining up to date with the current booster recommendations is the best protection against developing Long COVID.