The Virgin Islands official reopened to tourists Monday, after a new case of COVID-19 was confirmed Sunday, the 70th in the territory since the pandemic began.
Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. said the new case “is a result of the guidelines that we have imposed” and the infected individual was identified “before they had a chance to mix with the general population.”
The COVID patient has been “isolated and quarantined per our procedures. Living proof that this works,” Bryan said.
But the governor also cautioned that there will be more COVID cases as visitors return to the territory for leisure travel.
While there are thermal imaging cameras at air and seaports and “it is inevitable that individuals who are positive with COVID-19 will enter the territory. If they are asymptomatic, our thermal scan will not pick them up, and all the questionnaires in the world will not identify someone who doesn’t know hwo may be infected,” Bryan said.
There is one other active COVID-19 case in the territory, and that individual remains hospitalized with COVID-19 at Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas. There are no COVID-19 patients at Luis Hospital on St. Croix, Bryan said.
The Schneider patient is an individual from the Philippines who was allowed to disembark from a ship for emergency treatment, and he is on a ventilator but showing signs of improvement, Bryan said.
While he understands there is “anxiety” in the community around the phased reopening, but “we must move forward despite the concern for the spread and more cases,” Bryan said. “Diligence and vigilance has been our partner throughout this crisis, and it is what continues to make us successful. I ask each of you to continue the practices that have now, for the most parts, become habits in our community — social distancing, wearing your masks, keeping your hands away from your face, your nose, and your mouth, diligent handwashing, staying away from others who feel sick and are symptomatic, and calling the hotline when you feel sick and reporting that illness.”