The V.I. Department of Health has confirmed six new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the latest infographic published by the department.
Five of the six cases were recorded on St. Croix, and one in St. Thomas. Of the five cases on St. Croix, one was transmitted through close contact, two were travel related, and two were under investigation by the Dept. of Health as of Tuesday night.
The sole case on St. Thomas was travel related. Health officials are now tracking 11 active cases.
According to Governor Albert Bryan, a coronavirus patient was receiving treatment at the Juan F. Luis Hospital as of Monday.
The Dept. of Health said 2,972 tests were performed as of Tuesday, with 2,876 testing negative and 90 positive. The virus has killed six individuals in the territory, including a father, mother and son.
As cases rise in the USVI, Mr. Bryan told the Consortium during his Monday coronavirus press briefing that requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine would essentially mean walking back the territory to the "Safer at Home" phase when hotel reservations were closed and leisure guests discouraged from traveling to the territory. Mr. Bryan said he has to balance the safety of the public and keeping the local government afloat, stating, "At this point we're running on fumes trying to make sure that we keep the money flowing, keep our vendors paid, keep WAPA paid, keep G.E.R.S. paid, and still keep all the semi-autonomous agencies and the other agencies of the government paid.
"None of that money gets into the government unless we have a working economy," Mr. Bryan added.
The governor further stated, "I see people on the chat making comments about shutdown for tourists. It's the local people that are coming home that are infecting people. We're not sending these people back to hotels, we're sending them back to their house when they quarantine."
On Tuesday, Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez announced strict new rules for all passengers flying into the island commonwealth in a bid to curb coronavirus cases as officials blame recent outbreaks on those who flew to the U.S. territory and were infected, according to the Associated Press.
Starting July 15, all passengers have to wear a mask and must take a molecular test 72 hours prior to their arrival and submit the results to officials at the airport. Those who refuse to do so, or tested positive, or do not have the test results available, will be forced into a two-week quarantine. During that time, they have to undergo a molecular test and share the results if they want to be released from quarantine, said Puerto Rico Health Secretary Lorenzo González, the AP reported.
At least three states are now requiring that visitors quarantine for 14 days or face penalties: New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said those violating the quarantine could be subject to a judicial order and mandatory quarantine, and fines are $2,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $10,000 if you cause harm, according to CNN.
The largest hub for travel to the USVI is Florida, where cases have surged fivefold in the last two weeks. On Saturday, for the second straight day, Florida surged past its previous record for new coronavirus cases, reporting 9,585 infections. Another 8,530 were reported on Sunday.
According to a New York Times database, there have been at least 146,333 cases of coronavirus in Florida. As of Tuesday morning, at least 3,446 people had died.