Testing

V.I. Adjutant General Kodjo Knox-Limbacker receives a nasal swab test for COVID-19 during a drive-through screening at the Barren Spot Village Mall on St. Croix. The V.I. Health Department announced Tuesday that it will soon be able to conduct 20,000 tests per month.

The V.I. Health Department announced Tuesday that the territory’s COVID-19 positivity rate has shrunk to 1% — down from 15% in August — and that testing capacity is expected to jump to 20,000 tests per month.

Territorial Laboratory Director Dr. Brett Ellis, appearing at Government House’s weekly press briefing, said the territory is expected to receive up to 7,200 Abbott ID NOW tests in October and through the end of the year, referring to the rapid tests that can detect COVID-19 in a matter of minutes.

Ellis said he’s also expecting to receive 30,000 additional Abbott tests by the end of the year. The new tests will be the Abbott BinaxNOW tests, which are touted as a portable rapid test ideal for mass testing.

“We’re hoping to take advantage of this and really increase the frequency [of testing] for populations that are high risk and get our test numbers even higher through the end of the year,” Ellis said.

To date, 21,507 individuals in the territory have been tested for COVID-19 — of which 1,322 tested positive, 20,155 tested negative and 20 have died. Currently, three COVID-19 patients are at Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas and none are at Luis Hospital on St. Croix.

Government House spokesman Richard Motta Jr. said Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. recently returned from the mainland after tending to a family emergency. The governor is in self-quarantine, awaiting the results of his COVID-19 test, Motta said.

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.

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 covid19usvi.com. For COVID-19 updates, text COVID19USVI to 888777.

— Contact A.J. Rao at 340-714-9104 or email ajrao@dailynews.vi.