U.S. Virgin Islands Face Worst Surge Since Pandemic Began

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Coronavirus investigating  successful  February successful  Charlotte Amalie, the superior  of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Credit...Gabby Jones for The New York Times

Daniel E. Slotnik

  • Aug. 15, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ET

As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rise crossed the country, immoderate areas with debased vaccination rates person been deed hard, similar Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi.

The aforesaid is existent for the U.S. Virgin Islands, wherever lone astir a 3rd of residents are vaccinated. In caller days, the islands person seen their highest numbers of confirmed cases and hospitalizations since the commencement of the pandemic.

The islands, a fashionable tourer destination with a year-round colonisation of astir 106,000, are present successful the apical 20 U.S. states and territories for cases per capita, according to a New York Times database.

Active cases person been ticking up for weeks, rising from astir 60 astatine the opening of July to a precocious of 401 connected Friday, according to information from the islands’ Department of Health. Before this summer’s surge, the highest fig of progressive cases was 295, reported astir a twelvemonth ago. Only 37 percent of the colonisation was afloat vaccinated arsenic of Saturday, trailing each authorities but Mississippi and Alabama, according to national data.

Richard Motta Jr., communications manager for the territory’s governor, Albert Bryan Jr., said successful a telephone interrogation aboriginal past week that determination were 26 Covid hospitalizations, much than astatine immoderate clip since the pandemic effect connected the islands began successful March 2020.

Mr. Motta attributed the lagging vaccination complaint to misinformation, a conception of the islands’ colonisation that is profoundly suspicious of vaccines and the information that the shots are not yet afloat approved but are being administered nether exigency usage authorizations.

The islands person acceptable up a lottery to incentivize vaccinations, Mr. Motta said, and shots oregon regular investigating are required for the astir 6,000 authorities employees, the unit members astatine the territory’s hospitals, arsenic good arsenic students and workers astatine the University of the Virgin Islands.

The islands made vaccines disposable to each adults erstwhile overmuch of the state inactive constricted them to high-risk groups, starring some Americans to sojourn successful bid to beryllium inoculated.

All deaths and hospitalizations recorded successful the islands impact unvaccinated people, Mr. Motta said, and the fewer documented breakthrough infections were not superior — much grounds that vaccines connection precocious extortion from the worst outcomes.

The islands person stricter precautions than overmuch of the mainland, including an indoor disguise mandate, societal distancing rules and a curfew connected beaches and businesses.

Schools, which conscionable reopened, are afloat remote, and volition enactment that mode astatine slightest until September, Mr. Motta said.

The islands usually gully arsenic galore arsenic 2,000 visitors a day, Mr. Motta said, but erstwhile cases were climbing successful the summertime of 2020, the islands banned caller edifice reservations. Tourism has since roared back; immoderate airlines introduced caller flights determination this spring.

Regardless of vaccination status, visitors ages 5 and older person to station impervious connected an online question portal of a antagonistic coronavirus trial taken nary much than 5 days earlier arrival. Mr. Motta said that 1 twelve to 2 twelve radical had falsified tests, and that immoderate were arrested.

The British Virgin Islands, a territory that is lone a fewer miles distant from the U.S. Virgin Islands by ferry, virtually unopen down its waterways to inbound planetary travelers until April. The territory besides saw a surge successful cases that has lone precocious begun to subside.

Both land territories escaped Tropical Depression Fred mostly unscathed, but the hurricane play runs done November. A earthy catastrophe could greatly complicate their pandemic prospects, a constituent made past week by President Biden, who said that getting vaccinated was a captious portion of preparing for hurricane season.

“If you upwind up having to evacuate, if you upwind up having to enactment successful a shelter,” Mr. Biden said, “you don’t privation to adhd Covid-19 to the database of dangers that you’re going to beryllium confronting.”

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