Covid-19 cases are trending higher this week according to data put out by the V.I. Department of Health revealing a total of 50 confirmed cases between Wednesday and Thursday. D.O.H. reported 26 new cases Wednesday and 24 on Thursday.
The increase in cases in the territory was expected, as confirmed cases on the U.S. mainland remain historically high, and deaths continue to increase as well. According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. recorded 2,804 deaths on Wednesday. The university also revealed that newly reported infections surged past 200,000 for the second time in less than a week. Additionally, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. were hospitalized as of Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. This includes a record number of people in intensive care and near-record numbers of patients on ventilators, the Tracking Project made known (via WSJ).
The USVI has seen 23 Covid-19-related deaths to date: 15 on St. Thomas, 7 on St. Croix and one on St. John, according to D.O.H. As of Monday, one Covid-19 patient was hospitalized and on a ventilator at the Juan F. Luis Hospital, and one patient was hospitalized at the Schneider Regional Medical Center.
Relative to the active cases, St. Thomas had 40 as of Thursday, followed by St. Croix with 24, and St. John with 24 for a total of 88 active cases as of Thursday, according to D.O.H. data.
Governor Albert Bryan, in a proactive attempt to diminish the potential for yet another surge of Covid-19 cases in the USVI, implemented a two-week "soft shutdown" of government operations. "We have to keep up our guard in order to survive this holiday season with no lockdowns," said Mr. Bryan during a Covid-19 press briefing on November 24.
As part of the effort, the governor directed all agency heads within the executive branch to reduce in-person work as much as possible for two weeks. The governor also recommended employees be given time off, or work on staggered schedules. And he urged all private employers to do the same.
The governor issued a moratorium on all permits given for large events. "We have to control the virus as much as possible," he said. Mr. Bryan stated that there were some exceptions made for some sporting events such as flag football. However, from Nov. 24 and forward, there will be no special arrangements made for anyone throughout the holiday season.
Anything that attracts a large group of people in a public space, including sports tournaments and food sales, are all discontinued until further notice, the governor said. "There will be no exceptions to this because this is not a time to be out." In lieu of the in-person events, Mr. Bryan encouraged virtually affairs.