Lawd, allyoh hard on our governor.
Of course, it is common for different people to have different interpretations of issues and events. I have a different take on the issues raised in the Saturday, March 6, 2021 Extra! editorial. I don’t see it as Gov. Bryan having things both ways — some that would be conflicting.
First, I have heard the different pictures painted of our finances and I will admit it can be confusing to the public. But my interpretation is that when OMB Director Jenifer O’Neal says the government’s financial picture is “relatively strong,” she is speaking about the status of the funds that pay government operations and services. When the governor speaks about the poor financial status, I think he is speaking about funding to finance important, non-hurricane or COVID-related projects, and our inability to successfully go to the bond market. Both can be, and I believe, are true.
Second, our community has a significant amount of hesitancy to all vaccines. Because of this, our child vaccination rate is far below the national average and goals and below what is needed to safely protect them. Government House and the Department of Health began to work with CDC and others on how to mitigate hesitancy before the first COVID vaccine hit our shores.
And they continue to do so, while ensuring increased accessibility to those who want the vaccine but face barriers to access. What is true here is true everywhere in the country — Caucasians, whether residents to the administering area or not — are far more willing to get the vaccine.
Access is not as much of a problem here as it is stateside. We have addressed that and we continue to work on hesitancy. We can’t force anyone to get the vaccine, but we are doing everything we can to encourage our local residents to take it.
Our North Star island remains achieving the herd immunity among our own Virgin Islands residents that will make COVID, at the very least, no more dangerous than a mild flu.
Lastly, when I have heard the Governor take credit, he always does so on behalf of the work of the relevant agencies.
Further, he applauds them and applauds and thanks the people of the Virgin Islands for complying with the executive orders, recognizing that without their help, we would not be where we are.
Everyone, including the Governor, mourns and regrets the loss of those who died from COVID. It is why the humongous effort is being put into testing and vaccinations.
While there may be questions about whether they fully prevent infection, there is absolutely no question about the fact that all of the vaccines now approved prevent severe disease and death.
This is my personal take.
— Dr. Donna M. Christensen,
Editor’s note: Christensen serves as public health strategist consultant to the V.I. Department of Health.