There is only one person currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in the territory, but government officials are urging Virgin Islanders to remain cautious and avoid activities that could spread the disease.
“Everyone must do their part,” Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion said during a press conference Monday. “Only venture out for essentials like food, medicine, or to care for loved ones.”
The territory remains under a “Safer at Home” order, and Encarnacion said residents must “change our pre-COVID behaviors to reduce our community spread.”
Luis Hospital on St. Croix currently has no COVID patients, while Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas has one patient in stable condition, Government House Communications Director Richard Motta Jr. said.
Motta spoke on behalf of Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., who did not attend the press conference.
Encarnacion said the department has been distributing masks, hand sanitizers, and informational handouts at locations throughout the territory.
Testing has been decreasing in recent weeks and dropped into single digits on Saturday and Sunday, as fewer residents are calling to request tests, Encarnacion said.
“Our calls are going down,” she said.
The department has plenty of testing supplies on hand and is working to test the homeless population and other underserved communities, “so we’re changing our strategy so we can actually increase our numbers,” Encarnacion said. “Hopefully we’ll see an increase of testing within a week or so.”
Staff are doing outreach in English, Spanish and Haitian French Creole, and “our goal is to educate the public, and provide you with the tools you need to protect yourselves,” Encarnacion said.
One individual who had been hospitalized for COVID-19, Rolly Tolentino, 47, was admitted to Schneider Hospital in critical condition on May 7 after being rescued from a freighter that was denied entry to Puerto Rico.
He was discharged on July 31, and Tom Boyd, media relations manager for the Maersk shipping company, issued a news release Monday saying that Tolentino is continuing his recovery at home in Manila.
The ship had been traveling from Panama to Morocco when Tolentino fell ill. After other jurisdictions denied the ship entry, the vessel then traveled 390 nautical miles out of its way to get him to the St. Thomas hospital after Bryan admitted him entry, according to the news release.
“Throughout the entire period of hospitalization, the Maersk company doctor was in contact with the responsible physicians as well as the next of kin to the crew member relaying the progress of his condition,” according to the news release. “After the crew member recovered sufficiently to return home, Maersk officials made arrangements for specialized transportation to accommodate his condition.”