Thanksgiving is one of the most cherished holidays in America, as it brings family and friends together to catch up and reminisce, while dining on once-a-year cuisine.
The tradition is also very mushy with lots of hugging and friendly kisses.
This year, the V.I. Dept. of Health is urging residents to be more mindful as Covid-19 could spread easily in such settings. D.O.H. Territorial Epidemiologist, Dr. Esther Ellis, on Monday provided the community with some guidelines to follow while celebrating:
Community members who need assistance in safely organizing their events should email D.O.H.'s Environmental Health Division at email@example.com.
In addition to people attending parties and gatherings locally, residents will also be traveling abroad to the mainland for weekend trips. "It is critical that residents who travel follow the travel guidelines," said Dr. Ellis.
As cases continue to rise both nationally and locally, Commissioner of Health Justa Encarnacion has discouraged residents from nonessential travel. Dr. Ellis echoed those sentiments Monday during the Bryan administration's Covid-19 response update. "Travel increases your chances of getting Covid-19; staying home is still the best way to protect yourself and others," she said.
While residents are discouraged from nonessential travel, some individuals who must travel for essential reasons are encouraged to visit usviupdate.com for travel requirements.
Dr. Ellis highlighted in her report that all travelers to the territory age 5 and above must use the travel portal at usvitravelportal.com before coming to the USVI. They also must provide a negative PCR test taken within five days before travel. Also accepted are positive Covid-19 antibody tests taken within four months prior to travel. This goes for both residents and visitors alike, however, children age 4 or younger are exempted from the testing requirements.
During the briefing, Dr. Ellis also addressed the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. Earlier Monday, Moderna, an American biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, released data from its vaccine test results. The company said trials proved to be 94.5 percent effective.
"The overall effectiveness has been remarkable... it's a great day," said Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer at Moderna. Dr. Stephen Hoge, the company's president, said, "I don't think any of us really hoped that the vaccine would be 94 percent effective at preventing Covid-19 disease; that was really a stunning realization."
Moderna's results come just a week after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their preliminary data from ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials showed their vaccine to be 90 percent effective. According to a BBC article, Moderna's vaccine seems to be easier to store since it remains stable at minus 20C for up to six months and can be kept in a standard fridge for up to a month. Compared to the Moderna, the Pfizer vaccine will need to be stored in an ultra-cold freezer at around minus 75 Celcius and can only be kept in a fridge for five days.
Dr. Ellis stated that the USVI has been looking at both vaccine options, stating that the territory has the capacity to store the Pfizer vaccine, however, the Pfizer vaccine has to be transported on dry ice to providers since not all providers may have the proper means of storing the vaccine.
Relative to a timeline, Dr. Ellis said the USVI will receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the same time with U.S. states.
Medicare Advantage Plan
Dayna Clendinen, director of the Division of Personnel, presented information to all government retirees about their Medicare Advantage Plan, which will be transitioned beginning January 1. Retirees should receive a new United Healthcare Advantage card the first week in December.
Benefits to retirees under the new plan include:
Under the new plan, Medicare Part D prescription coverage remains unchanged.
Ms. Clendinen also spoke about the mass-mailing of a coupon book and a 2021 premium about the AARP Medicare Supplement Plan. She made clear that unless a person has an individual health care plan with AARP, the letter and coupon book can be disregarded.
Additionally, Ms. Clendinen stated that while the United HealthCare plan transitions to the GVI Medicare Advantage Plan, beneficiaries might receive a termination notice. Nevertheless, that does not mean those beneficiaries have lost coverage.
For more information about the GVI Group Medicare Advantage Plan, call the Personnel Division at 340-774-8588 or 340-718-8588 or contact United HealthCare at 866-827-9022 or visit uhcvirtualretiree.com/gvi.
Presently, according to the V.I. Department of Education's existing school and district inventory, the department has issued:
D.O.E. has purchased 12,000 Chromebooks for students with the funding provided by Congress under the CARES Act, though most of them had yet to arrive. As of Thursday, November 12, the department had distributed.
D.O.E. said it would continue the issuance of Chromebooks as soon as the vendor fulfills the book orders.