The V.I. Health Department on Thursday confirmed the territory’s 21st death linked to COVID-19.

The deceased is a 76-year-old female on St. Thomas. No other details were released by the V.I. Health Department.

To date, St. Croix has suffered six fatalities linked to COVID-19; St. Thomas has suffered 14; and St. John has suffered one.

The Health Department advises the public to continue following precautionary measures to slow the spread of the virus. These include staying at home; social distancing, wearing a mask when in the company of others outside your family; and washing your hands frequently.

Meanwhile, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. earlier this week relaxed restrictions on establishments and mass gatherings as the territory’s rate of positive COVID-19 cases continues to decline.

The governor is now allowing churches and houses of worship to accommodate up to 100 people or 50% of their maximum seating capacity, whichever is less.

That means if a church has a seating capacity of 800, it can only accommodate up to 100 people. Or, if a church has a seating capacity of 150, it can only accommodate 75 people, since the 50% limit would be less.

Also, effective Nov. 9, bars will be allowed to reopen, but only for sit-down service. Bar-side service, or congregating near the bar or outside the establishment will continue to be prohibited. Patrons seated in designated areas may order food, alcohol or both, and those sitting must be adequately spaced. Bars with no table service will remain closed.

Additionally, on Nov. 9, the mass gathering limit will increase to no more than 100 people for indoor and outdoor activities or 50% of the capacity, whichever is less. Bryan added that live bands and DJs will be allowed in licensed establishments, but not after midnight. The 11 p.m. drinking curfew will remain in effect.

In addition to mass gatherings, Bryan said restaurants, effective immediately, are no longer required to use disposable dishware, insisting most restaurants now have high-powered dishwashing equipment to keep dishes sanitized.

Currently, the territory is tracking 15 active cases of COVID-19, a drop of roughly 30 cases since the beginning of the month and a decline of about 200 cases since a peak in August.

The number of new positive cases has also remained relatively steady in the last two weeks, now at 1,327 cases.

Despite the heartening trend, Bryan advised the community to remain vigilant and continue abiding by safety guidelines as outlined by the V.I. Health Department, including social distancing and face coverings.

To report a suspected case of COVID-19, call 340-712-6299 or 340-776-1519. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. For more information, visit For COVID-19 updates, text COVID19USVI to 888777.