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Freedom City Times: Covering Your City

Governor Bryan Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Lottery for V.I. Residents

June 7, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During the Government House weekly press briefing on Monday, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. announced that he has instituted a $100,00 lottery to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

The Government of the Virgin Islands will give away $100,000 a week for 10 consecutive weeks beginning Tuesday, July 6, to Virgin Islands residents who are fully vaccinated.

Residents who already are vaccinated will automatically be entered into the drawing, and residents who are not vaccinated have enough time to become fully vaccinated prior to the first drawing.

The only requirement to enter the drawing is proof of residency.

Funding for Literacy

Governor Bryan also said he has approved giving $1.5 million each to the St. Croix Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands to be used for literacy and numeracy programs for Virgin Islands students during the summer and into the school year.

The funding is open to organizations that offer tutoring and other academic enrichment services. In the coming weeks, the foundations will be issuing guidelines to the organizations that wish to apply for the funding.

“It is our Administration’s belief that this is a necessary initiative for the enrichment of our students who have been outside of the traditional classroom setting during the pandemic, and I personally look forward to the launch of this program,” Governor Bryan said.

Legislation enabling 8% repayment

Governor Bryan also announced that on Monday he sent proposed legislation to the 34th Legislature to supplement the Fiscal Year 2022 and FY 2023 Executive Budget proposals that would allow using Excise Tax collections from FY 2021 to repay the $38 million owed to public sector employees as a result of the VIESA Act, which reduced salaries by 8%.

Additionally, the Governor said the Bryan-Roach Administration continues to work with the 34th Legislature on ways to secure adequate funding for the Government Employees’ Retirement System (GERS).

“I continue to stress the importance of refinancing our bond debt not only because it is the prudent and fiscally responsible thing to do but because the current market climate presents a tremendous opportunity for us to refinance our debt and use the savings to fund pressing obligations, like the GERS,” Governor Bryan said. “And without any other measure presented within the seven months since our last refinancing proposal, now is time to take advantage of this opportunity.

“We have seen Puerto Rico and some of the other insular territories return to the bond market and take advantage of the current low interest climate, and we have seen them realize debt savings as a result. We don’t have time. Certainly not another seven months,” Governor Bryan said.

 

 

Coast Guard crews rescue diver in distress off Dutchcap Cay in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

May 25, 2021.

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — Coast Guard air and surface crews rescued a diver in distress Monday just off Dutchcap Cay in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rescued is a man, a U.S. citizen reported to be in his 60’s, after he went missing during a diving trip with his wife and friends aboard the sailing vessels Divine and Playtime off the west side of Kalkun Cay.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a VHF Channel 16 radio call from the vessel Playtime at 12:50 p.m. reporting both sailing vessels were searching with their dinghies for a missing diver last seen about an hour and half before. The rescued man went out on a 100-foot dive with three other divers, who did not see him resurface. He was wearing a blue and black camo wetsuit and a silver colored oxygen tank.

Coast Guard watchstanders diverted a Coast Guard MH-60T helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, while a Coast Guard Boat Forces Detachment St. Thomas 33-foot Special Purpose Craft - Law Enforcement also responded. Once on scene, the Coast Guard aircrew began searching and deployed a Self-Locating Datum Marker Buoy to measure surface ocean currents in the area.

The Coast Guard aircrew located the missing diver at approximately 3:15 p.m. Monday just off Dutch Cay, over 1.7 nautical miles north of his original position. The helicopter hovered over the diver as the Coast Guard boat crew came alongside and recovered him from the water. The man appeared to be in good although quite exhausted. The Coast Guard boat crew returned the diver to the sailing vessel Divine, after he declined to receive any medical assistance.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone’s face of relief knowing that they are safe in Coast Guard hands after believing they were not going to survive,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Koelle, Boat Forces St. Thomas coxswain for the case. “The efficient teamwork and coordination between Coast Guard responding units and our watchstanders at Sector San Juan achieved a successful outcome in this case.”

CAHS Parent Who Attended May 21 Hybrid Graduation Tests Positive for COVID-19

May 25, 2021.

ST. THOMAS, USVI – The Virgin Islands Department of Health confirmed on May 24 that a parent who attended the Charlotte Amalie High School (CAHS) hybrid graduation ceremony has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to health officials, the parent’s exposure period began prior to their attendance at the May 21 ceremony on the CAHS campus; the infection did not originate at the graduation.

The school’s 222 graduates and their parents were separated into cohorts that were housed in three locations on the campus until their scheduled procession to an outdoor stage where students would receive their diploma and be greeted by dignitaries. Safety protocols were strictly enforced throughout the ceremony, with temperature checks conducted at all entrances, and sanitization with soap and water and/or hand sanitizer made available to attendees. All guests and students were also required to wear a face mask at all times.

The Department of Health continues to conduct contact tracing of guests that may have come in close contact with the affected parent.

Prior to the May 20 graduation ceremony for Ivanna Eudora Kean High School (IEKHS), the Department of Health informed Department of Education officials that three seniors—one from CAHS and two from IEKHS—had tested positive for COVID-19. Those students and at least 10 others were prohibited from participating in the May 20 and 21 graduation ceremonies.

Anyone who attended the CAHS graduation ceremony on May 21 and is concerned about their exposure to COVID-19, may contact the Department of Health’s epidemiology hotline at (340) 776-1519 or (340) 712-6299, or call their private physician for further guidance.

Governor Bryan Congratulates Adrianne Todman On Her Nomination for Deputy Secretary of HUD

March 24, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr. issued the following statement congratulating native Virgin Islander Adrianne Todman following the announcement that President Biden intends to nominate her for the position of Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development:

“I want to congratulate Adrianne Todman on the announcement of her nomination and also thank her for being yet another example – for the nation and the world – of the quality of leadership that comes out of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Governor Bryan said. “Ms. Todman is an established expert in the affordable housing sector, who has decades of experience working in various roles at HUD, and she is the current CEO of the National Association of Housing Redevelopment Officials. Her nomination only adds to the bright promise being shown by the Biden Administration.

“The Bryan-Roach Administration looks forward to working with her and her staff, particularly on the housing issues facing the Territory, which are the same issues that have been the mainstay of her long and successful career,” Governor Bryan said.

Before joining NAHRO, Ms. Todman served as the executive director of the District of Columbia Housing Authority, where she implemented a national award-winning model to house homeless veterans, increased homeownership opportunities by 50percent for low- and moderate-income families served by DCHA, expanded the number of families affordably housed via federal and local vouchers and oversaw 12 concurrent large redevelopment efforts with the goal of preserving the stock of low-income units and increasing the supply of units available to a range of household incomes.

She also served as a legislative director in then-Congressman Ron de Lugo’s office.

Ms. Todman serves on the Brookings Institution’s “Health and Economic Mobility” policy group and the Urban Institute’s “Renters and Rental Market Crisis” working group, and she is a trustee on the board of Smith College, where she is an alumnus and member of the faculty.

 

Sen. Gittens calls for WAPA probe must continue, introduces special prosecutor legislation

March 17, 2021

ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Legislation to address concerns related to improving utility service has had a positive impact on the Public Services Commission’s ability to handle consumer complaints and Senators will continue to both push for reform and investigate malfeasance at the V.I. Water & Power Authority, Senator Kenneth L. Gittens said Wednesday.

Despite the Governor’s veto of three other measures related to addressing concerns at WAPA, the Ratepayer Bill of Rights is now law. The legislation was sponsored by Senator Gittens, Senator Marvin Blyden and former Senator Alicia Barnes in the 33rd Legislature.

“Bill #33-0272 codified basic consumer protections regarding disconnections, billing disputes, and other matters,” Senator Gittens said. “We learned at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole hearing that the new Ratepayer Bill of Rights has empowered the Public Services Commission to intervene on behalf of consumers with concerns about their WAPA bills.”

During the Committee of the Whole hearing, Senators continued their probe into what Senator Gittens has called the abuse of public trust by WAPA’s management.

“On Tuesday, I announced that I am drafting a bill to appoint a special prosecutor to sort out the chaos at WAPA,” Senator Gittens said. “We have a litany of problematic contracts, deals, leases and losses that haven’t been adequately addressed by WAPA’s board or executive team.”

Senator Gittens is also the sponsor of other legislation regarding WAPA and the Public Services Commission that was to be considered on Tuesday. However, given the many new concerns brought to light during the hearing, Senators moved to hold off discussion on the WAPA related legislation on the agenda. These bills included:

BR# 21-0402 Ensuring that members of the Public Services Commission, which regulates WAPA and other utilities, have a level of expertise in an area specific to their duties. This legislation also restructures the Commission and allows for remote participation in hearings.

BR# 21-0401 Strengthening the qualifications necessary to serve on the WAPA Governing Board to ensure that members have experience and education in areas related to WAPA’s operations.

Both measures were previously vetoed by Governor Albert A. Bryan Jr. along with Bill# 33-0346, to establish a management and oversight review committee to institute a plan for restructuring of WAPA.

“WAPA’s inefficiency is endangering our economy as a whole,” Senator Gittens said. “We have had poor decision making at every turn and ongoing instances of waste, fraud, abuse, and conflicts of interest. There is no question that the members of the 33rd, and now the 34th Legislature, have exposed problems at WAPA and I am urging further collaboration to investigate these matters and institute reforms.”

Governor Bryan Submits Gun violence legislation, Mobilizes National Guard to Curtail the Violence

March 16, 2021

Governor Bryan also has submitted a number of pieces of legislation to the Legislature to support the Virgin Islands Police Department’s efforts to combat gun violence in the Territory and apprehend criminal offenders.

The Governor’s proposals seek to clarify reciprocity requirements for legally carrying firearms as well as the requirements for transporting firearms, ammunition and accessories into the Territory by residents and visitors.

“The proposed legislation seeks to require 24-hour notice of intent to import firearms into the Territory to facilitate VIPD search and declaration,” Director Motta said. “This legislation further complements efforts to intercept illegally smuggled firearms undertaken by the VIPD and agreements currently being coordinated with the Virgin Islands Port Authority and the Territory’s airline partners.”

Governor Bryan also signed into effect two executive orders to help curtail gun violence.

Executive Order 510-2021 activates all Executive Branch Peace Officers Territory-wide to perform public safety functions as necessary under the direction of the Police commissioner for a period of at least 16 regular non-overtime hours per calendar month. It also mobilizes the Virgin Islands National Guard, adding to the VIPD forces as necessary, and the order will bolster police manpower, allowing for increased and effective high-visibility policing.

Executive Order 511-2021 established the Governor’s Advisory Council on Community Violence Intervention comprising government, private sector, non-profit, religious and community advocates coordinating strategic interventions and contributing resources to complement the newly established Office of Gun Violence Prevention for which staff recruitments currently are underway.

ESTATE CARLTON SHOOTING VICTIM, SGT. IAN BENJAMIN, SR., WAS A VI NATIONAL MEMBER

March 3, 2021

The Estate Carlton shooting victim who died on Tuesday after being shot in his home by unknown assailants was a member of the VI National Guard.

Ian Benjamin, 38, was assigned to the 610th Quartermaster Company, where he served as a water treatment specialist. He joined the VING in 2005, where he enlisted in the 630th Quartermaster Detachment on St. Croix.

Benjamin was also employed as a federal technician with the VING as a Tools and Parts Attendant. 

“Today we lost one of our Soldiers, who wasn’t killed by wounds suffered in a theatre of war defending our nation abroad, but at home in a barrage of gunfire similar to that of war,” said Brig. Gen. Kodjo Knox-Limbacker, the adjutant general. “There are no words that will bring Sgt. Ian Benjamin back or any that truly consoles his family, friends, and comrades for his loss.”

“All of our heartfelt condoles and prayers for the family will not solve this type of problem in our community,” Knox-Limbacker said.

The VI Police Department Detectives urge anyone who saw something to say something by calling 911, the Crime Tip Line at (340) 778-4950, or anonymously to Crime Stoppers USVI at (800) 222-8477.

 

Office of the Governor, Division of Personnel Launch GVI Employee Self-Identification of Disability Survey

March 2, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – The Office of the Governor, through the Division of Personnel, has begun its annual GVI Employee Self-Identification of Disability survey to collect quantitative data on existing disabilities throughout the Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI).

In January, Governor Bryan signed Executive Order 469-2021, which addresses the importance of hiring more employees with disabilities in the GVI. To start this process, the Division of Personnel must first obtain a general knowledge of how many GVI employees may have disabilities.

After the employees self-report their disability, a goal concerning employment percentages will be established as mandated by Governor Bryan’s executive order.

“I would like to thank Director Clendinen and the Division of Personnel for effortlessly collaborating with my team to roll this project out. As the Territorial ADA Coordinator, it is important for us to advocate for persons with disabilities to have whole lives that will allow them to provide, whether it is for themselves or their own families,” said ADA Coordinator Julien Henley. “While a project like setting a minimal goal of this population to work within the total GVI employee makeup may appear insignificant or even unnecessary to some, this hiring process will give individuals the joy we would like to see if they were our own children. When we accomplish this goal, competent candidates with disabilities are given an opportunity to produce multifaceted joy for others. So, I take great pride in asking everyone to please join us in completing the self-report as soon as you can. The little time you take to sign up truly goes a long way.”

The Self-Report survey is an annual poll, with this year’s submissions open until May 31. All GVI employees will be required to choose one of three options:

• I have a disability, and this is what it is.... • I have a disability, but I don't want to disclose what it is. • I don’t have a disability.

“The Division joined forces with the Office of the Governor and we’re pretty excited about the launch of the Self-Reporting Project. The team is working diligently to ensure that persons with disabilities are employable as mandated by the Governor,” said Personnel Director Dayna Clendinen. “Self-reporting is the only way for us to truly understand the challenges and provide employees with the necessary tools and resources to help ensure their success.”

All information submitted by GVI employees will be kept confidential; however, with the employee’s consent, records may be used for selective placement purposes and to select special populations for mailing voluntary personnel research surveys. Employees will not be required to give their name or employee number when submitting information, and all personal information will be housed in the Division of Personnel and will be withheld from HR managers.

 

Coast Guard aircrew rescues 5 stranded kayakers in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, rescue a distressed snorkeler in Isabela, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen helicopter crews Saturday rescued five stranded kayakers in the U.S. Virgin Islands and a distressed snorkeler in Isabela, Puerto Rico.

"Both these cases highlight how even a beautiful day can turn into a bad situation," said Lt. William T. Cox, Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter first pilot and acting pilot for the cases. "It’s very important that individuals pay close attention to the weather and sea state conditions and also wear appropriate safety equipment while engaged in water activities. In the end, everyone made it back safe and sound thanks to the coordination and quick response from local Emergency Services, Coast Guard watchstanders and our crew.

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands rescue:

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a 911 call Saturday afternoon from a the U.S. Virgin Islands reporting five stranded kayakers, four females and one male. The strong currents reportedly pushed the kayakers up on the rocks in the vicinity of Caret Point in St. Thomas. A bystander residing at Caret Bay Villas observed the incident and called 911.

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen launched to search for the kayakers. Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard aircrew located the five persons stranded shoreside and deployed the aircraft rescue swimmer to assess their condition. The kayakers appeared to be in good health and were hoisted aboard the helicopter via a rescue basket and sling hoist. The kayakers were transported to the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, where they were assisted by awaiting Virgin Islands Police and Emergency Medical Service personnel.

Isabela, Puerto Rico rescue:

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a 911 call at 9:34 a.m. Saturday reporting a woman being swept out to sea by the strong currents, while she was snorkeling and spearfishing just off Teodoro Beach in Isabela, Puerto Rico.

Watchstanders transmitted an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to mariners and directed the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 rescue helicopter. Once on scene, the Coast Guard helicopter hovered over the beach area and the aircrew observed bystanders pointing to the location where the woman was last seen.

Shortly thereafter, the aircrew spotted the woman, who had drifted away from the position she was last seen. The Coast Guard aircrew deployed the helicopter’s rescue swimmer, who reached and secured the woman in a sling hoist. They were both hoisted approximately 15 feet above the water as the pilot maneuvered the aircraft shoreside, where the woman's husband and awaiting Emergency cal Service personnel received and transported the survivor to a local hospital.

Opportunity for St Thomas/St John Veterans to receive COVID-19 Vaccination

The VA Caribbean Healthcare System will be offering COVID-19 vaccinations to the following groups of Veterans in the St Thomas / St John district:

• Veterans registered and eligible to receive care at VA who are 55 years or older • Veterans that are Hemodialysis, Chemotherapy, Spinal Cord, or Organ Transplant patients • Homeless Veterans • Veterans that are First Responders (EMT, Police, Nurses, Firefighters, etc.)

The location will be the Nisky Moravian Church Fellowship Hall 18th February 2021 9:00 am – 1:00 pm  & 19 th February 2021 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Veterans are required to make an appointment for vaccination by calling (787) 641-4591. Walk-ins will be accepted only if vaccines remain once all appointments have been accommodated. Those, if any, will be available while inventory lasts. Veterans taking the vaccine must be available to receive their second dose in 28 days to complete the vaccination cycle.

St. Croix Veterans that have taken the first dose in January will be receiving the second dose on February 24th and 25th .

 

FEMA Lifts Manual Drawdown Restriction for Reimbursement of Recovery Project Spending

February 3, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr., in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Recovery, announced Monday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has lifted the manual draw requirement for reimbursement of post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria Recovery project spending in the territory.

.While under FEMA’s manual drawdown process, the USVI was required to submit funding reimbursement requests to FEMA for approval before gaining authorization to draw funds.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency imposed the manual draw requirement after a 2018 audit found discrepancies with reimbursements filed by the Virgin Islands’ Government with FEMA for contract work done in the immediate aftermath of the storms in 2017.

In 2019, Governor Bryan initiated the Office of Disaster Recovery (ODR) to manage and oversee the disaster recovery process and reconcile past recovery-related discrepancies.

Since the manual drawdown implementation, ODR has developed robust grants management and administration protocols and practices in accordance with applicable Federal laws, regulations, and administrative requirements.

“The Office of Disaster Recovery has demonstrated the capacity and laid the foundation to ensure that the territory manages federal funds correctly,” said ODR Director Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien. “FEMA’s decision to lift this requirement is a testament to the hard work of our staff and their continued pledge to develop the capacity and processes to maintain an accurate accounting of recovery dollars.”

Governor Bryan said Monday that FEMA’s decision is another step forward in the Bryan-Roach Administration’s efforts to continue and, in many instances, correct and expedite the territory’s post hurricanes Irma and Maria recovery and rebuilding.

“This indicates the diligence of the Office of Disaster Recovery and our administration’s efforts to get our recovery on the right track,” Governor Bryan said. “It was a long road toward accountability, but the clean-up and the additional protocols that have been put in place are now bearing fruit for the people of the Virgin Islands. Now that we don’t have to abide by those restrictions, we can process payments and move projects more quickly.”

FEMA’s decision came in the form of a January 29 letter informing the Government of the Virgin Islands that the agency had completed its assessment of the GVI’s progress in responding to the Notice of Potential Debt Letter issued to the territory on December 15, 2020.

In the letter, FEMA noted that the ODR made substantial progress in providing supporting documentation in defense of the potential debt and that its responsiveness in conjunction with the approved Internal Control Plans led to the decision to lift the Manual Drawdown process currently in place. The Territory will continue to coordinate with FEMA to ensure compliance with all federal guidelines and standards.

VITEMA Announces Vaccination Hotline; Health Operating Pop-Up Sites for Free COVID-19 Testing

February 1, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During the Government House weekly press briefing on Monday, February 1, 2021, VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen announced a new hotline for individuals who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination to schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider to get the shot.

“Currently, the Territory is still serving Phase 1A and Phase 1B, and as a result the 28-plus providers were quickly overwhelmed by individuals desiring the COVID-19 vaccine,” Director Jaschen said. “Phase 1B represents a significant increase in the eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine from the initial Phase 1A, which represents healthcare workers, EMS workers, dialysis patients, long-term care facility staff and some residents.”

Phase 1B now includes residents age 65 or older, college-age students, restaurant workers, grocery store workers, hotel and casino workers, plus 28 local government and federal agencies.

Beginning Tuesday, February 2, 2021, healthcare providers who would like to partner with VITEMA to administer and any eligible individual who would like a COVID-19 vaccine can call the VITEMA vaccination hotline at 340-777-8227 (VACS).

The vaccination hotline will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday, and is staffed with both English and Spanish speaking personnel. Both insured and uninsured are welcome to call the hotline and those 65 and older are encouraged to call.

Veterans age 55 or older also are eligible and can call the VITEMA hotline or make an appointment through the Veterans Administration at 787-641-4591.

Appointments also can be scheduled on the VITEMA website at www.vitema.vi.gov.

Insured and non-insured individuals can receive the vaccination, and no provider is permitted to request out-of-pocket cost or ask for an individual reimbursement.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion announced more frequent and regular pop-up sites on all three islands for free COVID-19 tests. No appointment is necessary at the drive-up sites, and results are typically sent within 24 hours.

This week, pop-up testing sites will be at the following locations:

St. Thomas Home Depot on Tuesday, February 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. Canegata Rec Center on St. Croix on Tuesdays – February 2, 9, 16 and 23 – from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The V.I. Port Authority Gravel Yard on St. John on Wednesday, February 3, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The Bordeaux Fire Station on St. Thomas on Thursday, February 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. Canegata Rec Center on St. Croix on Thursdays – February 4, 11,18 and 25 – from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Commissioner Encarnacion said 9,429 vaccines have been administered, 1,815 persons have completed their second doses and the positivity rate in the Territory currently is 4.1 percent.

“We did see some improvements, but with new cases seen throughout the Territory, our positivity rate fluctuates,” the Commissioner said. “We experienced an increase in hospitalizations last week with as many as six in the Territory at once.”

Commissioner Encarnacion also encouraged residents who have received the vaccine to use VSafe, a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins that can be downloaded at vsafe.cdc.gov.

Governor Bryan Officially Launches Program to Reimburse Public School Educators for Out-of-Pocket Expenses from Virtual Learning

January 29, 2021

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Friday announced the official launch of his administration’s initiative to reimburse educators within the territory’s public school system for out-of-pocket expenses incurred related to virtual learning for the 2020-2021 school year.

During his third State of the Territory Address on Monday, the Governor announced the initiative, acknowledging public school educators’ efforts during the pandemic and the Bryan-Roach Administration’s plans to utilize Education Stabilization Funds through the CARES Act to provide the reimbursements to eligible public school educators.

The Incentive for Educators Conducting Virtual Learning will provide approximately 1,300 reimbursement payments to eligible public school educators for expenses they personally incurred as a result of the safety guidelines put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virgin Islands Department of Health for the 2020-2021 school year.

Educators currently eligible for reimbursement under the program include teachers, principals, content coordinators, guidance counselors and paraprofessionals.

FEMA Obligates $6.2M for the Restoration of Fort Frederik Museum

.ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands- The Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) has been awarded $6,213,969 to complete repairs to the Fort Frederik Museum on St. Croix. The Office of Disaster Recovery received notification of the recent obligation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Public Assistance Program to renovate both the interior and exterior of the historic site and replace ruined contents.

The exterior of the Freedom City landmark was severely impacted when Hurricane Maria caused heavy winds, fallen trees, wind-driven rain and saltwater to permeate the structure. The damages were compounded by erosion from floodwaters in the adjacent gut and wave action along the ocean shoreline. Interior losses to the museum's contents occurred when windows, doors and leaky skylights were either blown off or forced ajar.

The restoration will be completed to resemble all physical and visual aspects of the site's pre-disaster condition, including design, color, hardware, and workmanship. Once the task order to develop the solicitation is approved, the procurement package will be drafted and released by the Department of Property and Procurement.

"This is a momentous and unprecedented opportunity for the Territory. This grant will ensure Fort Frederik improves its standing as a National Historic Landmark, as well as become a preferred tourist destination on St. Croix. The grant will also provide opportunities for local businesses on St. Croix to participate in the renovations process and allow for the timely completion of the project," stated DPNR Commissioner Jean P. Oriol.

Repairs include plastering and painting and the refurbishment of gates, signage, cannon carriages, windows, shutters, doors and the roof, in addition to the replacement of lighting, ceiling fans, electrical elements, air conditioning units, picture frames, display cases and furniture. The scope also contains the acquisition of twenty-five pieces of artwork and two exhibits.

"The storms of 2017 wreaked havoc on more than just the Territory's infrastructure. They also caused irreparable damage to our cultural holdings and historic buildings," said Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien. "Through FEMA's support, the completion of this and other projects such as the renovation of Government House and Catherineberg on St. Thomas, The Battery on St. John and Fleming House on St. Croix will ensure that Virgin Island's history is preserved and historic sites are reconstructed correctly, adhering to local and federal standards."

The target completion date for the revitalization of the Fort Frederik Museum is December 2025.

 

USVI Division of Economic Research Territorial Online Survey

Jamuary 26, 2021

The USVI Division of Economic Research, Office of Management and Budget has launched a Territorial Online Survey that focuses on the impact COVID-19 has had on the Territory’s businesses and organizations.

Selected respondents are urged to answer all questions listed in the online survey as the information you provide is necessary for ongoing socio-economic research related to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The selected respondent’s profile will be kept confidential and responses to the survey will be disseminated publicly in a summarized format.

Department of Human Services Announces 90-Day Extension on all Expired Senior Discount Cards in St. Croix District

January 21, 2021

(US VIRGIN ISLANDS) – In light of COVID-19 and a delay in receiving necessary ID card equipment replacements, The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) has granted an additional 90-day extension for all expired Senior Identification (ID) cards effective immediately (January 2021) in the St. Croix District.

The Department is requesting that businesses and banking institutions recognize this announcement as the official extension for Senior Discount Cards in order for seniors to continue to use their Senior ID for banking tractions and all other services requiring a valid Virgin Islands ID.

The DHS St. Croix District Senior ID Program is currently unable to issue and/or renew Senior IDs until further notice. The office anticipates resuming Senior Discount Card issuance and renewal operations in the St. Croix District within 90 days when the new equipment is in place.

Senior Citizen Affairs ID Contact Numbers: • St. Croix - (340) 773-6630 • St. Thomas- St. John - (340) 774-0930 ex.t 4018

Coast Guard stops illegal charter just off Cruz Bay in St. John

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — The Coast Guard terminated an illegal charter for the 29-foot small passenger vessel Alternate Attitude Sunday just outside of Cruz Bay. 

During law enforcement patrol in the area, a Coast Guard Boat Forces Detachment 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement team conducted a boarding of the Alternate Attitude and found the vessel was carrying 11 people onboard, including the vessel operator and 10 passengers for hire. The Alternate Attitude, reportedly operating as a charter voyage out of St. Thomas for Alliance Point Charters, may only carry up to six passengers.

The Coast Guard boarding team cited the vessel operator with Violation of 46 CFR 176.100(a) - Not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.

"The Coast Guard wants to ensure the safety of vessel operators, crewmembers and passengers when engaging on charters,” said Lt. j.g. Lloyd Banks, Marine Safety Detachment St. Thomas assistant supervisor and senior investigating officer. “We want to support legal operations and assist non-compliant charters to come into compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Our ultimate goal is to facilitate commerce and prevent accidents at sea. We encourage vessel operators to reach out with their questions or concerns, so that we can further enable industry partnerships in conducting safe and legal charter operations.”

Section 4105 of title 46, United States Code, provides an exception to the laws concerning Uninspected Passenger Vessel operations specifically for vessels in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). In the USVI, vessels less than 79 feet in overall length may carry a maximum of 12 passengers only if the vessel complies with the requirements established by the United Kingdom (U.K.) Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Motor or Sailing Vessels commonly known as the Yellow Code (for motor vessels) or the Blue Code (for sailing vessels). If such a vessel does not comply with one of those codes, it may only carry a maximum of six passengers

Owners and operators of illegal passenger vessels can face maximum civil penalties of $60,000 or over for illegal passenger-for-hire-operations. Charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face over $95,000. Some potential civil penalties for illegally operating a passenger vessel are:

Governor Bryan, Lt. Governor Roach Close on $60 Million Revenue Anticipation Note

December 21, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and Lt. Governor Tregenza Roach closed on a $60 million line of credit with two local banks approved earlier this year by the 33rd Legislature, known as a Revenue Anticipation Note (RAN) to supplement government operations in anticipation of a potential decline in fiscal year 2021 second-quarter revenues as a result of the COVID pandemic.

The bill was originally passed by the 33rd Legislature on March 27, 2020, and was signed into law by Governor Bryan on April 14, 2020. That Act was repealed and rescinded in its entirety to incorporate borrowing terms between the banks and the government for the funds.

The Governor’s proposed measure will authorize the use of any available source of public funds to issue revenue anticipation notes for working capital to supplement government operations amid the downturn in revenue collections as a result of COVID-19.

Governor Bryan said in March when he initially sent the proposed legislation down to the Senate that while the public health and safety of the territory’s residents is his primary concern and the focus of the government’s response, it is also important to proactively plan for the economic impact of the pandemic.

“The Coronavirus has impacted the global, national, and local economies substantially, and the Virgin Islands has, as a consequence, experienced and expects to continue to experience, among other economic factors, significant disruption to the travel and cruise tourism industry,” Governor Bryan said at the time.

The proposed legislation also authorizes the Governor to:

Negotiate the final terms of all borrowing vehicles approved by the legislation as the Governor and the Public Finance Authority deem necessary. Execute and deliver all documents and agreements necessary in connection with the borrowing. Pay all expenses associated with the issuance of any authorized borrowing.

The legislation also requires the Virgin Islands Department of Finance to report to the Senate Finance Committee no later than 15 business days following any draw of principal borrowed and provide information regarding the purpose for which the funds were used, as well as a description of the source of the repayment.

The interest rate on any revenue anticipation notes or bonds cannot exceed 6 percent, and the maximum principal amount that can be borrowed is capped at $60 million.

 

Governor Bryan Requests Extension to State of Emergency

December 3, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has asked the 33rd Legislature to take up his request during their Special Session on Tuesday, December 8, to extend the State of Emergency until February 6, 2021.

The current State of Emergency expires on December 8.

“Given that the USVI is a major travel destination, it is not immune to COVID-19 spread from external sources and from places that have a higher risk profile. The Territory will remain at risk as long as this virus remains rampant throughout the U.S. and the world,” Governor Bryan wrote in his transmittal letter to Senate President Novelle Francis Jr.

Governor Bryan also included a detailed and itemized Plan of Action for going forward, as well as an extensive list of the actions the Bryan/Roach Administration has taken since the State of Emergency went into effect in March.

As of November 30, 2020, in the USVI, 28,658 persons have been tested for COVID-19, with 1,550 testing positive and 27,028 persons testing negative; of those persons testing positive, 1,493 have recovered and there have been 23 fatalities.

Governor Bryan, Senate President Francis Agree to Push Back Special Session

December 2, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and Senate President Novelle Francis Jr. have agreed to reschedule the Special Session that had been on the calendar for Thursday, December 3 to Tuesday, December 8.

“Per our discussion and in light of mutual concerns of the Legislature and the Executive Branch, I respectfully request that the Call for Special Session of the Legislature on December 3, 2020, to consider certain proposed Bills submitted by me be postponed,” Governor Bryan wrote in his transmittal letter to Senate President Francis.

Governor Bryan had called the Legislature into Special Session to take up three bills he has submitted, as well as a request for an extension to the State of Emergency.

Bill No. 33-0446 would repeal and replace Acts No. 8329 and No. 8330, which established the “Matching Fund Securitization Corporation” in favor of a second securitization proposal from Governor Bryan to refinance the Government of the Virgin Islands’ debt at lower interest rates. The new proposal creates no new debt for the GVI, and it would allow savings from the refinancing to be used as a path forward to assist insolvency for the Government Employees’ Retirement System, and for other priorities as determined by the Governor and the Legislature.

Bill No. 33-0447 relates to the definition of what comprises a public nuisance and establishes penalties for actions that endanger public peace, health and safety in order to preserve the lives and property of the people of the Territory during states of emergency.

Bill No. 33-0448 would amend Act 8310, which addresses the Governor’s authority to borrow monies from public funds of the Virgin Islands to offset cash flow problems caused by shortfalls in the collection of revenues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic for fiscal year 2021 instead of the previously authorized fiscal year 2020. The previous bill, which was not used, authorized borrowing based on FY2020 revenues.

Governor Bryan also is requesting and extension to the State of Emergency, which expires on December 9, to February 6, 2021.

 

VI DEPT. OF LICENSING & CONSUMER AFFAIRS OFFERS TIPS FOR HOLIDAY ONLINE SAFETY

November 25, 2020

Commissioner Richard Evangelista of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) encourages persons to shop local and support businesses in the United States Virgin Islands. However, if one opts to shop online, DLCA shares tips for shopping online during the holiday season.

Tip #1 – Check your devices.

Before making any online purchases, make sure the device you’re using to shop online is up-to-date. Next, take a look at your account and ask, do they each have strong passwords? And even better, if two-factor authentication is available, are you using it?

Tip #2 – Only shop through trusted sources.

Think about how you’re searching from home or on public Wi-Fi? How are you finding the deals? Are you clicking on links in emails? Going to trusted vendors? Clicking on ads on webpages? You wouldn’t go into a store with boarded up windows and without signage, the same rules apply online. If it looks suspicious, something’s probably not right.

Tip #3 – Use safe methods for purchases.

If you’re going to make that purchase, what information are you handing over? Before providing personal or financial information, check the website’s privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used.

For consumer related issues or to report a scam, call our hotlines on St. Croix 340.727.SCAM(7226) or St.Thomas/St. John at 340.771.SCAM(7226). Follow us on Facebook @dlcavi and on YouTube @dlcausvi.

VIWMA ADDRESSES DISTRIBUTION OF WASTE HAULERS VENDOR PAYMENTS

November 24, 2020

(US Virgin Islands) – The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) was created in 2004 to provide solid waste and wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal services to protect public health and preserve the environment of the U.S. Virgin Islands. VIWMA considers our contracted solid waste service providers as a valuable part of our operations and an asset to the Territory.

Since late October, when Governor Bryan signed into law Act 8381, appropriating $15 million to pay outstanding VIWMA vendor debts, almost every solid waste service provider who performed services since the Authority’s inception has contacted our Solid Waste or Finance division and made some claim of outstanding accounts payable owed to their company. VIWMA and its Board of Director’s has a responsibility to be good stewards of the Government of the Virgin Island’s limited financial resources, and as such has been working with contractors to review invoices and determine their validity.

Since late October, when Governor Bryan signed into law Act 8381, appropriating $15 million to pay outstanding VIWMA vendor debts, almost every solid waste service provider who performed services since the Authority’s inception has contacted our Solid Waste or Finance division and made some claim of outstanding accounts payable owed to their company. VIWMA and its Board of Director’s has a responsibility to be good stewards of the Government of the Virgin Island’s limited financial resources, and as such has been working with contractors to review invoices and determine their validity.

 

Governor Bryan Meets with Senators, GERS Officials To Create Solutions to Retirement System’s Unfunded Mandate

November 17, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Government Albert Bryan Jr. has been having ongoing discussions with Senators and GERS officials to find solutions to the Government Employees’ Retirement System and the possibility of significant benefits cuts for retirees beginning January 1.

On Monday, the Governor met with several senators to work collaboratively towards a solution to the retirement system’s looming insolvency. Governor Bryan has a follow-up meeting scheduled for later this week.

“We have to hold one head on the GERS and stop the political football. We cannot wait, and our retirees certainly cannot afford for us to wait,” Governor Bryan said. “We have to make a decision about what we are going to do. This is bigger than any of us. If our pension system goes, then everything else goes.”

Governor Bryan said his administration are committed to working with GERS officials and the 33rd Legislature on moving forward with a legislative package comprising his Cannabis Use Act and a second Internal Revenue Matching Fund debt refinancing deal before the end of December. The Governor also expressed his support for the proposed Remote Sales Tax legislation that is being put forward by Senate President Novelle Francis Jr.

The governor’s Cannabis Use Act proposes to make lawful the use of Cannabis for non-medical purposes and to remit 75 percent of all revenues from cannabis taxes and seller-licensing and other fees toward the GERS. That measure has been before the 33rd Legislature since December 2019 and was amended to include changes requested by members of the 33rd Legislature before being resubmitted in May 2020. The existing Cannabis law only authorizes medicinal use and generates little to no tax revenues.

In August of 2020, Governor Bryan proposed legislation to the 33rd Legislature seeking authorization to refinance the territory’s existing debt on its Internal Revenue Matching Fund bonds. The refinancing of those bonds would have yielded $255 million to the Territory over three years and saved the Virgin Islands $44 million over the existing term of the bond note.

The Legislature approved the Governor’s request to proceed with the refinancing in September. However, the last-minute filing of a temporary restraining order created uncertainties that deprived the administration of the opportunity to successfully re-enter the bond market and close before the authorization’s sunset date on September 29, 2020, as required by law. The restraining order ultimately was retracted but not before stalling the transaction. Because of the great interest by potential bondholders in the original refinancing initiative, the Territory is in a very good position to go forward with this second opportunity to save the GERS.

The Remote Sales Tax bill that Senator Francis is proposing is similar to a bill proposed by Governor Bryan and is patterned after an Internet Sales Tax. The Governor and Senators currently are combining the two bills into legislation acceptable to both parties. Revenues from a Remote Sales Tax could be used to pays GERS’ unfunded mandate.

Under the proposed law, which still is being developed, the Territory would collect Gross Receipts Taxes for sales made by businesses that don’t have a physical presence in the U.S. Virgin Islands. When the finalized bill is presented, those items could include sales of tangible personal property; sales of services; sales of any product transferred electronically; and other internet sales and remote transactions.

Governor Bryan Meets With Senators To Discuss Restarting Horse Racing in the Territory

November 13, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Thursday met with senators to discuss restarting the Territory’s horse racing industry, which has been idle since the reconstruction was halted by a lawsuit between VIGL and Southland Gaming.

Governor Bryan met with current Senate President Novelle Francis Jr., incoming Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory, current chairman of the Youth, Sports, Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Sen. Javan James and current Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Kurt Vialet.

Thursday’s meeting was to discuss the ongoing mediation between VIGL and Southland Gaming over the use of Video Lottery Terminals at the racetracks, and the Government of the Virgin Islands is a party to the dispute because of its agreement with VIGL to rebuild and operate the racing facilities.

VIGL and Southland Gaming have reached a preliminary settlement and the government has been reviewing those terms. On Thursday, the Governor shared a broad outline of what it will require legislatively to move the settlement forward, giving senators a preview of what the government is considering and providing them with an opportunity to weigh-in on items they think should be included or excluded from the proposed settlement.

“Our meeting was fruitful and productive, and the Legislature and the Bryan/Roach Administration are in accord with getting horse racing in the Territory up and running as quickly as possible,” the Governor said. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the 34th Legislature to making the revival of the horse racing industry a priority and jointly and proactively pushing this effort forward. ”

Currently, VIGL, the company that operates Hotel Caravelle in Christiansted and has a number of other business holdings in the Territory, has invested $17 million to rebuild, operate and manage the Randall “Doc” James Race Track on St. Croix and the Clinton E. Phipps Race Track on St. Thomas.

“The current conversations are to ensure that both branches of government are in lockstep with the changes needed in order to settle the disagreement between the two parties and bring horse racing back to the Territory. We know how important this is to the horsemen and racing fans,” Governor Bryan said.

As the ongoing situation develops, the Virgin Islands Horse Racing Commission is in the process of finalizing the racing rules and regulations for the Territory.

DLCA Warns Against A Scam Requesting A Return Call Otherwise Risk the Issuance of an Arrest Warrant

November 11, 2020

U.S. Virgin Islands – On November 10, 2020, Richard T. Evangelista, Commissioner of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) received a robotic call stating there is a pending legal action against him and failure to return the call to discuss the matter may result in the issuance of an arrest warrant. If you receive a similar call, it is likely a scam. Hang up or do not respond. If someone mentions there is a warrant out for your arrest, DLCA encourages the public to report the call to the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) Economic Crime Bureau.

Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information. Here are ten (10) practical tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help you stay a step ahead:

1. Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.

2. Do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.

3. Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

4. Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.

5. Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.

6. Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.

7. Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.

8 Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.

9 Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.

10 Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.

Bars, Nightclubs Allowed to Reopen Today With Restrictions

November 9, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During the weekly press briefing at Government House on St. Croix on Monday, Communications Director Richard Motta Jr. set out the guidelines and restrictions governing the reopening of bars and nightclubs in the Territory, as set forth in Governor Albert Bryan Jr.’s 19th Supplemental Executive Order.

“We have introduced a phased structure that defines our pathway to a new normal and have taken steps forward and backward,” Director Motta said. “Today, November 9, we officially take one of those steps forward on the path to our new normal.”

Among the restrictions pertaining to bars and nightclubs reopening are:

*Bars may operate for seated service only *Serving alcohol at bar counters is prohibited* No alcohol may be sold after 11 p.m. and all establishments must close by midnight *Masks and facial coverings are required for all patrons unless they are seated *The use of pool tables is allowed, as long as players wear facemasks, hand sanitizer is available for all players and cue sticks and areas around the pool table are disinfected after each game * Live music and DJs are allowed in licensed establishments until midnight, and live bands must be set up with social distancing of at least 10 feet between the band and patrons. *Occupancy in these establishments is limited to 50% of their capacity set by their business license or the Fire Marshal or 100 people, whichever is less

Cabarets remain closed.

Chromebooks

To date, Education Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin and her staff have distributed more than 1,500 Chromebooks to Virgin Islands public school students Territory-wide:

997 in the St. Croix District

670 in the St. Thomas/St. John District

In addition to the Chromebooks, to date the Education Department has issued 1,700 devices from its previous inventory and will distribute a total of 12,000 new Chromebooks Territory-wide.

“The Department of Education has been working tirelessly to ease the burden of virtual learning on teachers, students and parents,” Director Motta said. “They have been making progress on their efforts to provide the tools our students need to succeed at virtual learning.”

Governor Bryan Joins Public Works Commissioner Petty For Ground-Breaking of New VITRAN Facility

October 28,2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. joined Public Works Commissioner Nelson Petty Jr. for a ground-breaking ceremony for the new Virgin Islands Transportation System (VITRAN) Maintenance and Operations Facility on St. Croix that is being built to replace the 30-year-old current facility that lacks the space and equipment necessary to maintain VITRAN.

As designed, the new facility is 14,950 square feet and will be the primary operating facility for VITRAN. It will comprise three buildings: an Operations facility, a bus washing building and a tire storage building.

The new facility also will include four service bays outfitted to perform complete maintenance of all transit vehicles. As well as the administrative offices for all of VITRAN’s St. Croix staff.

 

Governor Bryan, Delegate Plaskett Talk With Main Street Business Owners

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Following Thursday’s signing ceremony for the land-swap agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI) and the National Park Service, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and Delegate Stacey Plaskett took a walk down Main Street on St. Thomas to talk to business owners.

The Governor and the Delegate asked business owners how they were faring during the economic turmoil caused by COVID-19, discussed federal pandemic business assistance programs and listened to suggestions and ideas about how the GVI could help local businesses.

“Businesses across the Territory, and across the mainland, are struggling mightily during the havoc the pandemic has caused economically to stay afloat. Businesses on Main Street, which rely heavily on Tourism and visitors who come to take advantage of our duty-free status are particularly affected,” Governor Bryan said. “The Bryan Roach Administration promises to explore every possible avenue to help our local merchants and business owners, and we will make sure they have access to all federal programs to help the struggling economy.

 

Governor Bryan Statement on Passing of Austin “Babe” Monsanto

October 19, 2020

US VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. today issued the following statement on the death of long- time Rotarian and retired Port Authority Marine Director Austin “Babe” Monsanto:

“It is with great sadness that Yolanda and I learned of the passing of Austin “Babe” Monsanto.

“As a veteran, an educator, a long-serving marine manager of the Virgin Islands Port Authority, and a lifelong Rotarian, you would find great difficulty in any attempt to quantify his contributions and impact on our community.

“I have fond memories of Mr. Monsanto when he served at the Port Authority. His name was a staple in my home, and I came to admire and respect him as a trailblazer. My mom always spoke highly of him and his commitment to excellence.

“Yolanda and I extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends, especially to his wife, Alda Schulterbrandt Monsanto; his children, Trevor, Stephen and Edwin; and all in the community who mourn his passing.”

In 2007, Mr. Monsanto was honored for his lifetime of public service to the Virgin Islands when the 27th Legislature commended his numerous achievements in ACT 6935, which renamed the Crown Bay cruise ship terminal on St. Thomas the Austin “Babe” Monsanto Marine Terminal.

VIRGIN ISLAND RESIDENTS URGED TO UTILIZE CONVENIENCE CENTERS AND SOURCE SEPARATE THEIR SOLID WASTE

(Virgin Islands) The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) urges residents to source separate their household solid waste and utilize the Convenience Centers located on St. Thomas and St. Croix. Source separation involves separating waste materials by type when being discarded so they can be recycled.

Convenience centers are facilities that provide several waste containers to accommodate source separated waste. The Mandahl Convenience Center (MCC) is located on the north east side of St. Thomas and the Peter’s Rest Convenience Center (PRCC) is on Queen Mary Highway on St. Croix. Both facilities are open daily from 6 am to 4 pm. Holiday schedules may vary. The convenience centers are manned by courteous and knowledgeable staff who will assist you with the proper disposal your household waste.

Items Permitted at the Convenience Centers include:

Household Waste, White Goods (refrigerators, stoves, water heaters, freezers, washing machines/dryers, and air conditioners), Bulk Waste (furniture, mattresses, scrap wood and scrap metal) and E- waste or electronic devices including computers, televisions and cell phones.

No more than two loads of household waste per resident, per day, will be allowed. Business and commercial waste, green waste and agricultural waste are strictly prohibited from being disposed of at the convenience centers.

 

Department of Human Services Announces Approval of the Second Round of P-EBT for School Year 2020-2021 through September 30, 2020

September 28, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS— The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced the approval of their application for a second round of P-EBT food assistance for August and September of the 2020/2021 school year.

The total amount of this issuance benefit to Territory is an additional $1,513,308.96. The benefit is intended to help families supplement the nutritional needs of their children due to pandemic school closure.

The benefit amounts that will be issued will vary by school, and is based on the number of school days with virtual instruction. Students attending schools that had or have in person instruction will not receive P-EBT based on the guidelines provided by the federal government.

Who will receive P-EBT, how will they receive it?

1. Each K-5 through Grade 12 student currently enrolled in USVI public schools and private schools that participate in the School Lunch Program. a. Existing eligible SNAP client’s P-EBT benefits will be applied to their current SNAP cards by September 30, 2020. b. Existing P-EBT recipients will have the second round of benefits added to their current card.

2. For new, eligible non-SNAP clients, cards will be mailed to the addresses provided by parents and guardians to the respective schools. Therefore, those households should receive their cards in the mail within the next two weeks.

VI ENERGY OFFICE REMINDS DISTRIBUTED ENERGY STAKEHOLDERS TO REGISTER FOR NET ENERGY BILLING PROGRAM

September 23, 2020

The Virgin Islands Energy Office (VIEO) in partnership with VI Water and Power Authority (VIWAPA) and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) have worked diligently in alignment with the Bryan/Roach Administration’s vision to create a sustainable renewable energy industry within the territory. The closing of the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program in June of 2017 resulted in a void in sustainable renewable energy policy within the territory over the last 3 years. In June of 2020, that void in sustainable policy was filled with the roll-out of the Net Energy Billing (NEB) program. The NEB program was developed through a collaborative inter-agency working group, that sought to bring a sustainable and quantitative interconnection process to the Virgin Islands.

Through the development cycle the Working Group identified that the advances in distributed energy technology and the ambiguity in interconnection policy created an environment in which installations have persisted without the required permitting or approval framework. The implementation of the Net Energy Billing program addresses the interconnection approval void by enabling a multi-step assessment process and implementing an adjusted excess generation rate structure. In addition, Title 29 Chapter 5 of the V.I. Code specifies the obligation of DPNR to require and enforce permitting of distributed energy systems coupled structurally and/or electrically to a dwelling.

The Net Energy Billing program was officially implemented through PSC approval on June 15th 2020. Furthermore, the program applies to all future grid-connected distributed generation installations as well as all Non-Net Metering existing grid-connected installations. Specifically, all grid-connected systems that were installed following the June 2017 closure of the NEM program, and were not grandfathered into the NEM program, must be registered within the Net Energy Billing Program.

The technology eligibility applies to Grid-Tied Solar/Wind systems and Grid-Tied Solar/Wind plus Storage Systems. Additionally, Self-Consumption and/or Zero-Export system configurations are Not exempt from NEB program registration. Fully Off-Grid systems, IE complete physical & electrical isolation from the WAPA meter and Grid infrastructure are exempt from the NEB program, however under Title 29 Chapter 5 of the V.I. Code these installations will still require DPNR permitting.

“This joint communication serves to remind unregistered distributed energy stakeholders that the Net Energy Billing program is Not a voluntary program. We expect all currently installed, non-Net Meter, and future grid- connected distributed energy installations to be registered within the program,” said Kyle Fleming, Director of the VI Energy Office. “The online permitting portal strives to expedite and streamline the permitting process of installers and community stakeholders seeking to register distributed energy installations throughout the territory.”

The VIEO is in the process of scheduling in office walk-throughs of the online permitting portal, and the VIEO invite installers, electricians, and property owners to call 340-713-8436 to schedule an appointment on St. Croix and St. Thomas.

As a point of emphasis, VIWAPA line crews and meter services in partnership with DPNR inspection teams will be tasked with surveying and identifying unregistered DG installations throughout the Virgin Islands. Systems found Out-of-Compliance will be issued a Warning Sticker via DPNR. An application must be submitted within two weeks following issuance of warning from DPNR. After two weeks, if an application has not been submitted, and willful negligence has been identified, fines will be assessed to the property owner.

“We are hoping to avoid additional enforcement measures in this matter, but we must ensure compliance territory-wide,” Director Fleming said.

LEPC AWARDED $638,248 FOR FY2020 STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN FORMULA GRANT PROGRAM

September 23, 2020

Law Enforcement Planning Commission (LEPC) Director Ray A. Martinez is pleased to announce the agency was awarded $638,248 from the US Department of Justice, FY2020 STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program (VAWA). LEPC submitted its application on behalf of the territory in April 2020.

LEPC serves as the State Administrative Agency (SAA) for the distribution of federal funds earmarked for local criminal justice agencies, nonprofit, social service agencies, and faith- based organizations. VAWA funding fosters territorial partnerships between police, prosecutors, judges, victim advocates, health care providers, faith leaders, and organizations that serve underserved communities. The VAWA, STOP grant is primarily geared to provide victims with the protection and services they need to pursue safe and healthy lives, while improving the community’s capacity to provide justice for victims and hold offenders accountable.

The VAWA grant is a vital resource that supports an array of specialized and innovative projects throughout the Territory. Initiatives and projects include:

• Services specifically devoted to preventing, identifying, and responding to violent crimes against women; • Training opportunities for law enforcement, court personnel, and victim service providers; • Partnerships between law enforcement and victim service providers to provide compassionate outreach to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking; and • Supporting prosecutors working closely with victim witness advocates, law enforcement, social service, and non-profit agencies.

 

 

RESIDENTS REMINDED OF THE PROPER DISPOSAL PROTOCOL FOR KITCHEN COOKING OILS

September 10, 2020.

(St. Croix, USVI) - The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, (VIWMA), reminds the residential community to properly dispose of used cooking oil and other greasy food waste.

Never pour greasy food waste, including cooking oil, salad oil, meat drippings and trimmings, bacon fat or greasy leftovers down sinks, drains or toilets. When your oil is completely cooled, pour it into a used coffee can, juice carton or another suitable container and place it in your trash. Dishes and pots with greasy residue should be wiped with a paper towel before washing.

The improper disposal of these oils in our homes is a major cause of residential, commercial and pubic wastewater line clogs resulting in sewer overflows throughout the Territory. These overflows negatively impact our land, beaches and seas, resulting in unsafe conditions and harming our environment.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles to Open with Limited Services

August 31, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS— Director Barbara Jackson-McIntosh would like to inform the motoring public that due to the extension of the Stay-at-Home order issued by Governor Albert Bryan Jr.; the bureau will only be serving customers by appointment only. As Governor Bryan has extended the Stay at Home phase in an effort mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has implemented the following protocols:

The bureau will only be serving customers by appointments only, Director McIntosh is requesting that customers do not come to the bureau until their appointment time. Customers will receive a reminder via text 30 minutes prior to their appointment and 2 minutes before they are required to come into the offices. · All driver’s licenses and identification card services have resumed, customers must make an appointment online at bmv.vi.gov. · Director McIntosh is encouraging the motoring public to take advantage of the bureau’s online vehicle registration process. During this period, the bureau will waive the requirement for inspection for any customer that renew their vehicle registration online.

If customers need assistance in setting up an account or for technical assistance, please email the bureau at info@bmv.vi.gov. Customers are reminded to contact their insurance agency to email proof of insurance to the bureau at insurance@bmv.vi.gov.

· Inspection will continue to be waived for all private vehicles that are registered online until December 31, 2020. Regardless of the age of the vehicle, all vehicles can be registered online using the BMV E-Servicing system. Commercial vehicles must contact the bureau to make an appointment for inspection. · All road tests and written test for the learner’s permit are cancelled until further notice. · All driver’s licenses and identification cards that expires as of March 2020, will be extended for a period of 6 months from the expiration date.

 

WTJX RECOMMENDS RESCANNING FOR ITS OVER THE AIR CHANNELS SHOULD YOU LOSE ACCESS OR EXPERIENCE ANTENNA ISSUES

August 28, 2020

St. Croix, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – As we approach peak hurricane season and power outages and generator failures become more frequent, the Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting System (WTJX) is advising the public who view its channels by using an antenna of the following procedure to rescan for WTJX’s channels:

1.Make sure your TV is connected to an antenna.

2.Press the “MENU” button on your remote control. If you do not have a remote, please locate the built-in “MENU” button on the TV itself.

3.Find and select the “CHANNEL SCAN” option on your TV’s menu. This may also be labeled “RESCAN,” “TUNE,” or “AUTO-TUNE.” If you are unable to locate this function, try searching through your TV’s “SETTINGS,” “TOOLS,” “CHANNELS,” or “OPTIONS” menus. Please keep in mind that some TVs may require you to press “INPUT” to reach “ANTENNA.”

4.Once your TV starts scanning – this may take up to 15 minutes – your TV will either display the number of channels available or directly drop you back into a broadcast environment.

5. Should this rescanning process not work, please try moving the site of your antenna for optimal reception.

Unfortunately, WTJX experienced such issues in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias. WTJX’s personnel has since rectified this service interruption. However, if you are still unable to access WTJX’s channels after attempting the rescanning procedure detailed above, please contact Eunell Maduro at (340) 690-7298.

You should be able to view WTJX via antenna on 12-1, 12-2, and 12-3.

VIWMA Obligated $5.7M for Sewer Line Repairs on St. Thomas

August 25, 2020

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands- The Office of Disaster Recovery announces the obligation of $5.7M to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority to repair sewer lines in the Garden Street, Savan, and Moravian Guts on St. Thomas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program funds will be used to restore approximately 4,570 linear feet of sewer line in the heavily trafficked area.

Excessive rainfall during Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused overflows and the accumulation of debris that damaged the sewer collection systems. These issues were continuing to trigger recurring sewage overflows on Garden Street and in Savan.

“This obligation is critical to the completion of the project. Permanent repairs have already begun in the Garden Street, and Moravian Gut as the project is approximately 80% complete,” Acting Chief Operating Officer Ann Hanley, Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority. “The project will address long-standing issues by replacing severely damaged sewer lines, manholes, and laterals, including the removal of temporary bypass lines. The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority thanks the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the funds to address sewage backups and overflow discharge at the guts in Savan, Garden Street, and near the Memorial Moravian Church on St. Thomas.”

The Authority has engineered improvements into the system to make the lines more resilient and will also replace thirty-nine manholes disposing of old frames, covers, and pipes.

“These repairs go hand in hand with the proposed United States Army Corp of Engineers Savan Gut Phase II, VI Project, which, if approved, will construct a wider and deeper gut and remodel three bridges to compensate for the increase in capacity,” said Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien.

This obligation will cover ninety percent of the cost of permanent repairs, restoring the lines to their full functionality and capacity. This project should be complete by the end of this year.

Collision on East End Road Leaves Man Dead

August 19, 2020

ST. CROIX, USVI – On August 18 at approximately 8:37 p.m., the 911 Emergency Call Center received a report of an auto accident on the East End Road, just west of the Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School, between a motorcycle and an off-road vehicle. Officers traveled to the area and found the off-road vehicle with two injured passengers and an unresponsive Caucasian male, the rider of the motorcycle, in the roadway.

Preliminary investigation and statements revealed that the off-road vehicle was traveling east, while the motorcycle was traveling west. Both vehicles collided head-on in the westbound lane.

Emergency Medical Technicians on the scene concluded that the rider of the motorcycle had no vital signs. His identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The occupants of the off-road vehicle were transported to the Juan F. Luis Hospital & Medical Center for treatment of their injuries.

 

Government Agencies Adjust Operations During ‘Stay at Home’ Phase of COVID-19 Pandemic

August 17, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – In response to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the Territory and in keeping with Governor Albert Bryan Jr.’s executive order moving the USVI back to “Stay at Home” status, Government of the Virgin Island agencies are adjusting their operations.

Currently, departments and agencies modifying the operations include:

Bureau of Internal Revenue Bureau of Internal Revenue offices on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John continue to be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Cashiers are open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays-Fridays.

Bureau of Motor

Vehicles Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices will be closed until August 28. The bureau will waive inspections for any customers who renew their registration online. For assistance setting up an account, send an email to info@bmv.vi.gov. BMV customer service representatives will contact residents who dropped off documents prior to the bureau’s closure. All road tests and written tests for learner’s permits are cancelled until further notice. All drivers license and ID card services are cancelled, and the BMV will reschedule each appointment when it reopens. All drivers licenses and ID cards that expire as of May 1, 2020, will be extended for six months from the expiration date. For more information, contact the BMV at 340-713-4268 on St. Croix, 340-774-4268 on St. Thomas or 340-776-6262 on St. John.

Department of Education

The Education Department has suspended all in-person interactions with the public in its state and district offices on St. Thomas and St. Croix. For questions about public school registration, contact the St. Croix District at student.services@stx.k12.vi or the St. Thomas-St. John District at sttregistration@vide.vi. Visit www.vide.vi “For Families” section to complete the pre-registration form online and obtain and submit the required health clearances. For general questions, contact the main offices at 340-774-0100 on St. Thomas or 340-773-1095 on St. Croix or send an email to public.relations@vide.vi.

Department of Finance

All business with the Department of Finance should be conducted electronically whenever possible. A customer drop box is available at both offices – at the Security station on St. Thomas and at the west window before the main entrance on St. Croix. Any in-person customer transaction will be conducted via the walk-up window from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays.

Government Insurance Fund Workers’ Compensation Insurance

All public and private entities should use the forms located of the Department of Finance website at dof.vi.gov/forms-and-policies/government-insurance and email them to governmentinsurance@dof.vi.gov. Once your application is received the department will contact you.

W2 and 1099 forms

GVI employees should use the Employee Self Service for copies of W2s and paycheck stubs by logging on to usvi.munisselfservice.com. For ESS password resets, send an email to dophelpdesk@dop.vi.gov or call 340-714-5049. Inquiries for W2s can be directed to the Payroll Division: grace.fahie@dof.vi.gov or 340-774-4750 ext. 2252. Inquiries for 1099s can be directed to the Accounting Division: vanessa.williams@dof.vi.gov or 340-774-4750 ext. 2262.

Checks - Vendor check inquiries can be directed to the Treasury Division: terry.bridges@dof.vi.gov or 340-774-4750 ext. 2192 Payroll check inquiries can be directed to the Payroll Division: grace.fahie@dof.vi.gov or 340-774-4750 ext. 2252. For more information and Department of Finance forms, go to www.dof.vi.gov.

Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs

DLCA will have cashier services available only to businesses that cannot pay by credit card online. Tuesdays and Thursdays cashier hours are: St. Croix: 9 a.m. to noon St. Thomas: 9 a.m. to noon St. John: call 340-474-2800 to schedule payment Walk-ins to speak to a DLCA representative are currently suspended. To file a complaint or to renew or apply for a new business license, use the department’s website at www.dlca.vi.gov and a DLCA representative will contact you. For more information, call the commissioner’s office at 340-713-6916 or 340-725-5129 or send an email to consumerawareness@dlca.vi.gov.

Department of Planning and Natural Resources

All public libraries are closed to the public. Fort Frederik on St. Croix and Fort Christian on St. Thomas are closed to the public. Pick-up and drop-off services will be available only on Tuesdays and Fridays during regular office hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cashier services will be available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays only. For in-person needs other than pick-up or drop-off services, make an appointment by calling 340-773-1082 on St. Croix or 340-774-3320 on St. Thomas. For more information, visit dpnr.vi.gov.

Department of Property and Procurement

The department’s office at 8201 Sub Base and the Motor Pool at 121 Sub Base closed for 14-day quarantine on August 14 after an employee/patron tested positive for COVID-19. The Divisions of Printing, Central Stores and Transportation in the St. Thomas District remain closed until further notice. The department is urging anyone who visited the offices between July 30 and August 13 to self-quarantine. The Property and Procurement office remains functional, and government agencies, vendors and the public that conduct business with the department should call the St. Croix office at 340-773-1561 or visit the websites at dpp.vi.gov and www.usvileasing.com.

For Division-specific inquiries, send an email to:

Justification Letters – justificationletters@dpp.vi.gov Bids & Proposals – ebids_proposals@dpp.vi.gov Procurement – procurement@dpp.vi.gov Property – property@dpp.vi.gov Transportation – transportation@dpp.vi.gov Central Stores – centralstores@dpp.vi.gov Printing – printing@dpp.vi.gov Legal Counsel – legal@dpp.vi.gov Public Relations – publicrelations@dpp.vi.gov IT/Website Help Desk – help@dppusvi.on.spiceworks.com

Elections System

All offices of the V.I. Elections System are closed territory-wide until further notice. Application forms for the 2020 General Election are available at the Elections System website at www.vivote.gov. For more information, call 340-773-1021.

Judicial Branch

All non-essential services within the Judicial branch are suspended until further notice. The V.I. Superior Court will continue to use remote hearing protocols for all or most essential or emergency matters, including but not limited to Advice of Rights emergency petitions for Abuse or Neglect, Domestic Violence and Stalking. For inquiries and/or assistance, use the following numbers:

St. Croix District Court Administration – 340-713-6627 Office of the Clerk of Superior Court – 340-713-6626 Probation and Pre-trial services – 340-713-6642 St. Thomas-St. John District Court Administration – 340-693-4110 Office of the Clerk of Superior Court – 340-693-6403 Probation and Pre-trial services – 340-693-6429 Supreme Court Office of the Clerk of Supreme Court – 340-693-4100 Office of Bar Admissions – 340-693-4129 Office of Disciplinary Counsel – 340-693-4127

For submissions of filings to the Superior Court, use these email addresses: Advice of Rights and Arraignments – remoteaorstx@vicourts.org remoteaorstt@vicourts.org

Complex Litigation Filings – CLDCourtesyCopy@vicourts.org ALL Other Filings – superiorcourtfile@vicourts.org Conventional filings will continue to be accepted at Superior Court in both districts and at Supreme Court in both districts.

Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Offices of the Lieutenant Governor will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and all cashier services will be available from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily until further notice. Divisions closed to public access are the V.I. State Health Insurance Program/Medicare and the Divisions of Corporations and Trademarks. For assistance pertaining to these divisions, call the Office of the Lieutenant Governor at 340-773-6449 in the St. Croix District or 340-774-2991 in the St. Thomas-St. John District. Divisions with limited public access are the Office of the Tax Assessor; Office of the Tax Collector; the Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation; and the Passport Division. Customers can visit these offices by appointment only, which can be scheduled by calling 340-773-6449 on St. Croix or 340-7742991 on St. Thomas/St. John. Divisions that will allow members of the public to drop off documents for processing but will otherwise be closed to the public are the Recorder of Deeds; Cadastral; and Notary Service. Customers must provide contact information, and they will be notified as their services are completed. Drop off boxes for Cadastral are at the Cadastral offices in each district. The drop off box for Recorder of Deeds for the St. Thomas-St. John District are that the Recorder of Deeds office on St. Thomas. On St. Croix, the drop off box for the Recorder of Deeds will be located at the Office of the Tax Assessor in Christiansted.

ANGUILLA LANDFILL CLOSED DUE TO FIRE SUPPRESSION ACTIVITIES

August 14, 2020

(St. Croix, USVI) - The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (‘VIWMA” or “Authority”) Preserving Paradise team advises the community of the temporary closure of the Anguilla Landfill due to ongoing fire suppression efforts. A fire was reported at the site at 7:40 pm, Thursday, August 13. Virgin Islands Fire Services (VIFS) and VIWMA contractors worked expeditiously to suppress the fire, however some hot spots remain active; efforts are ongoing to finalize suppression activities.

VIWMA advises the public and all haulers that landfill operations have been suspended. Haulers are asked to hold municipal solid waste (MSW) until normal operating hours resume. Green Waste ONLY will be accepted at the front section of the landfill. No other disposals will be allowed at this time.

The Authority will continue to provide updates regarding changes that may affect public health, the environment and haulers utilizing the landfill.

The VIWMA Preserving Paradise team apologizes for the inconvenience and would like to thank the community for their patience and cooperation.

BMV Launches “Schedule Online: Anytime, Anywhere” Appointment System

August 12,2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS— The Bureau of Motor (BMV) is excited to announce a new online appointment system, which was launched on August 4, 2020.
 
“As the BMV continues to transform the way it serves the community, this is another exciting and innovative initiative undertaken by my staff and I to improve services at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Residents will now have ease of access to schedule appointment for some of the services that we currently offer”, said BMV Director Barbara Jackson-McIntosh.
   
The new online appointment system will allow customers to make appointments completely online, from anywhere, for driver’s licenses, identification cards, disabled person placards, learners permit, written test, and road test. Director McIntosh is encouraging the motoring public to schedule their appointment in advance, the available time slots are filling up quickly.

Scheduling appointments online is fast and easy:
• First, go to bmv.vi.gov
• Choose your location.
• Enter your personal information
• Select the type of service, date and time
• Customer will then receive a confirmation and reminders via text
 
BMV’s “Schedule Online: Anytime, Anywhere” initiative is one of several identified to improve efficiency and service within the agency. Later this year, additional online services will become available, including applying for driver’s licenses/identification cards, disabled placards, personalized license plate, and moving permits, along with transitioning to an electronic written test system, using tablets.

Governor Bryan Extends Condolences to the Family of Wilma Marsh Monsanto

August 7,2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Friday released the following statement extending condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Wilma Marsh Monsanto:

“The Virgin Islands community, and specifically local St. Johnians, lost a guiding light in the movement to protect and advance the rights of native St. Johnians.

“Wilma Marsh Monsanto was a fearless and relentless advocate for local property owners’ rights and a committed public servant who served on the Board of Elections and as a delegate to the 5th
Constitutional Convention.

“I will always admire Mrs. Marsh Monsanto for her tenacity and unrelenting will to serve the people of the territory and offer herself to service time and time again. She truly is among the unique few Virgin Islanders who dedicated their lives and livelihood to the betterment of our
greater Virgin Islands community.”

“Yolanda and I extend our most heartfelt condolences to her family, especially her husband of 60 years, Liston Sr., her son Liston Jr., her daughter Lorelei, and her many friends and colleagues.

VITRAN Receives Funding to Continue Operation in the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic

August 6, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Transportation allocated $4.1 million dollars for the Department of Public Works and VITRAN to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020 and contains $25 billion for transit agencies throughout the United States to fund operating costs and lost revenue.

VITRAN is a critical lifeline for many Virgin Islanders, and this funding will provide much needed support so we can continue to provide essential public transit services for both our fixed route and ADA paratransit clients, as well as medical transportation for kidney dialysis, cancer treatments and other critical care,” said Deputy Commissioner of Transportation Karole Ovesen-McGregor.

This funding can be used to purchase personal protective equipment for staff, paying administrative leave, training for social distance, COVID-19 testing, as well as the sanitization of buses, bus shelters, transfer stations and depots. 
 


VI BOARD OF BARBERS, BEAUTICIANS AND MANICURISTS PROHIBITS THE USE OF RAZOR-EDGED TOOLS

August 3, 2020

.The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) Division of Boards and Commissions, notifies licensees and the public that the Virgin Islands Board of Barbers, Beauticians and Manicurists (BBM) prohibits the use of razor-edged tools used for callus removal, due to recent complaints by consumers who were injured by cuts on their feet from the use of a “foot razor.”

It is the responsibility of the VI BBM to oversee and enforce the laws governing the cosmetology industry to ensure the health and safety of the consumer. Although the complaints received are currently under investigation, it is the Board’s determination to cease the use of these illegal tools in the territory.

Therefore, effective immediately, the BBM prohibits the use of illegal tools when performing pedicures in nail salons, beauty shops and spas within the U.S. Virgin Islands. When an illegal tool is used to remove calluses, it can cut the skin. Used improperly, these tools can cause injuries that require medical attention. These tools consist of:

• razor callus shavers, • credo blades, • metal scrapers and, • graters

“No razor-edged tools can be used to remove calluses or be performed by a nail technician. Callus removal should be performed by a qualified medical professional,” states the BBM. Violators who do not adhere to the BBM mandate shall be subject to fines and suspension of their license.

Governor Bryan Wishes “Sam the Sailor” Godspeed Following His Release from Schneider Hospital

July 31, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Governor Albert Bryan Jr. told “Sam the Sailor” he is always welcome in the U.S. Virgin Islands after he was released from Schneider Hospital on Friday following his successful battle against COVID-19.

Rolly Tolentino, 47, was admitted to Schneider Hospital in critical condition on May 7 after being rescued from a freighter that was passing by the Territory.

Governor Bryan allowed Mr. Tolentino, who was suffering from COVID-19, be admitted to the hospital in the Territory after the vessel was denied entry into Puerto Rico

The Governor dubbed Mr. Tolentino “Sam the Sailor” to protect his privacy when he would give updates on “Sam’s” condition during COVID-19 press briefings.

Mr. Tolentino is now COVID-free and is being transported back to his home in the Philippines, according to Schneider officials.

During a bon voyage send-off Friday morning at the hospital, Schneider Interim CEO Dr. Luis Amaro and St. Thomas-St. John-Water Island Administrator Avery Lewis escorted Mr. Tolentino, while hospital staff lined the hallways cheering and applauding.

“It is great to see our tradition of holding out a welcome to one and all was not in vain,” Governor Bryan said Friday morning. “Much thanks to our healthcare workers and the staff at Schneider Hospital for nursing our guest back to health. We wish Sam the Sailor Godspeed and hope he knows he will always have a home in the Virgin Islands.”

 

VIWMA ADVISES COMMUNITY OF TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF ANGUILLA LANDFILL DUE TO HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS

July 30, 2020

The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) Preserving Paradise team advises the community and solid waste haulers that the Anguilla Landfill is temporarily closed due to slippery road conditions caused by torrential rains affecting St. Croix.

Haulers are asked to hold waste until officially notified of the resumption of operations at the landfill. The Authority will continue to keep the community abreast of the situation.

On another note,VIWMA advises the community that its main office located at Estate Glynn is currently without telephone service due to a Water and Power Authority (WAPA) electrical interruption.

While WAPA is currently working to restore power to the area, St. Croix residents are asked to contact our St. Thomas office at 340-715-9100 if assistance is needed or for emergencies contact the VIWMA hotline at 844-962-8784 (WMA-USVI).

The VIWMA Preserving Paradise Team continues to work diligently to provide reliable services to the public and would like to thank the community for their patience and cooperation.

 

Governor Bryan Tells Residents to Keep Guard Up As Storm System Approaches the Territory

.U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. urged residents to stay vigilant and prepare for the weather system heading toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that is expected to become a tropical storm at some point on Wednesday.

“I know that this is an incredibly stressful time for our residents, as we are also trying to protect ourselves against the spread of the Coronavirus, but we must not let our guard down on this front,” Governor Bryan said. “We have seen what can happen, and we also know what we can do when we prepare and when we come together.”

VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, who also was at the press conference, along with Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez, said his agency is not issuing sandbags because of the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sand and sand bags will not be issued for this storm so as not to have gatherings of individuals,” Director Jaschen said. “There is not time to prepare adequate mitigation measures for this storm.”

The Director also said that curfew passes are made by appointment only and there is a 10-day processing period.

“If a curfew goes into effect, unless you are directly involved in emergency response or providing life-saving functions, stay off the road,” Director Jaschen said.

Commissioner Causey-Gomez also cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for her decision not to open shelters for this weather event.

“While this could pose a problem for certain residents with existing roof and flooding problems, in order to limit the spread of Coronavirus and promote health and safety for our islands, the Government of the Virgin Islands will not open congregate shelters at this time,” she said.

The Governor also said he has submitted a request for a federal disaster declaration in advance of the approaching storm system.

"While we are hoping for the best, we are preparing for the worst,” Governor Bryan said. “We have seen in the past how unpredictable these weather systems are and know better than to trust the safety of our community to the whims of these storms.”

The Governor also asked residents to take an active part in keeping the community, and their loved ones, safe.

“If you have not already, please sign up for Alerts VI by visiting vitema.vi.gov,” Governor Bryan said. “Build a kit. Formulate a plan. Check on your neighbors, family and friends and ensure that they have a plan.”

 

STT District VIDOL Experiences Communication Interruption

July 23, 2020.

USVI-July 23, 2020- The Virgin Islands Department of Labor (VIDOL) has been experiencing technical difficulties due to an issue that has affected the district for the past two days. While repairs have been scheduled, there is a possibility this interruption may continue. The Department will notify the public when repairs have been made.

Until necessary reconnection happens, the public in need of applying for unemployment can contact the 24/7 Call Center at 1(877)374-0356. The Department appreciates the patience and understanding of the public.

VIWMA ANNOUNCES REMOVAL OF NADIR BIN

July 23, 2020.

(St. Thomas, USVI) - The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (“VIWMA” or “Authority”) Preserving Paradise team announces the removal of the residential waste bin at Nadir. The bin will be removed while repairs to manholes are ongoing. Crews are presently clearing and cleaning the sewer lines near the Clinton Phipps Racetrack of an abundance of grease and debris which caused blockages causing manhole overflows.

The Nadir bin is a rear loader unit which cannot be safely accessed by the contractor while the repairs are ongoing. Residents who utilize the Nadir bin site are asked to dispose of household waste at the Brookman Road bin site until further notice.

VIWMA assures the public the Brookman waste site has adequate capacity; the site is serviced daily and there should be no refuse overflow. Businesses are hereby reminded; it is against the law for waste generated at commercial establishments to be deposited at residential bin sites. Commercial waste must be taken to the landfill for disposal. Additionally, bulk waste, including mattresses, appliances, furniture and other large items are prohibited at the residential bin sites and must be disposed of at the landfill.

To report illegal dumping, please call the 24-Hour Hotline at 844-WMA-USVI (844-962-8784). It’s our home! Let’s keep it clean!

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR ROACH INFORMS RESIDENTS OF LLOYD’S INTENTION TO OPERATE IN THE TERRITORY AS A SURPLUS LINES CARRIER

July 22, 2020.

Lieutenant Governor Tregenza A. Roach, who also serves as the Territory’s Commissioner of Insurance, is informing residents that he is in receipt of correspondence from Lloyd’s America, Inc. regarding its decision to relinquish its admitted licenses in the Territory and to focus on providing both surplus lines coverage and reinsurance.

“Lloyd’s intends to change its licensing status in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Illinois and Kentucky, the only three jurisdictions where Lloyd’s currently does business as an Admitted Insurer. It is making this change to operate in these three areas in the same manner that it does in every other U.S. jurisdiction,” said Lieutenant Governor Roach.

“We can assure our residents that there will be no change with regard to any existing policy,” said Lieutenant Governor Roach. “And Lloyd’s has further confirmed that the Virgin Islands insurance market can continue to write new Lloyd’s admitted business up until July 1, 2021, with renewals of existing policies being allowed for at least one year beyond 2021.”

Lieutenant Governor Roach said he has scheduled meetings with the Company, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and the Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation to discuss regulations that would minimize the impact of the change in Lloyd’s business model on the Virgin Islands community. Additional information will be released as these discussions are concluded.

VIPD to Hold Virtual Career Fair

July 21, 2020.

The Virgin Islands Police Department is looking to fill several positions within the department.

The following positions are currently available:

* Entry Level Police Officers * Certified/Lateral Police Officers * Police Auxiliar* Police Cadet * Police Explorer

‍Anyone interested In learning more about starting a career in public safety or exploring other opportunities can attend the meetings which will be held on Thursday, July 23, 2020, from 10am to 12 noon.

The Link below is to access the meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81268725811pwd=MFNRaFBKeC9RbGY2c1puWE50TWlBdz09

Meeting ID: 812 6872 5811 Password: VIPD

 

 

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles Reminds the Public that all Vehicles in the Territory must be registered with the BMV or a citation will be issued by Law Enforcement.

July 21, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS— Director Barbara Jackson-McIntosh is reminding the motoring public that ALL vehicles in the territory must be registered with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Effectively immediately, the Virgin Police Department will issue citations for unregistered vehicles to include vehicles that were never titled or registered in the Virgin Islands.

In addition, if there is a change of ownership of a vehicle bought locally, 20 V.I.C. § 335 requires that vehicles must be transferred into the new owner’s name within twenty-four hours of the transaction. If you fail to properly transfer the ownership of the vehicle at the BMV and you are stopped by law enforcement officers, you will receive a citation. The application that is required to apply for a Certificate of Title and a list of the required documents are available on our website at bmv.vi.gov, click on the FORMS tab, and download the pdf fillable Certificate of Title Application.

For more information, please feel to contact the BMV at (340) 713-4268 on St. Croix, (340) 774-4268 on St. Thomas, and (340) 776-6262 on St. John or via email at info@bmv.vi.gov.

VIWMA TEAM ANNOUNCES EMANCIPATION DAY & FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY SCHEDULE

July 2, 2020

(St. Croix, USVI) - The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (‘VIWMA” or “Authority”) Preserving Paradise team advises the community of the hours of operation for the VIWMA’s facilities and administrative offices in observance of the Emancipation Day and Fourth of July Holidays.

Bovoni Landfill & Mandahl CC: Friday, 6am-2pm & Saturday 6am - 12pm

St. Croix TS: Friday 6am - 2pm  & Saturday 6am - 12pm

St. Croix Peters Rest CC: Friday 6am - 4pm & Saturday, 6am - 4pm

St. John Susannaberg TS: 7am - 2pm & Saturday, 7am - 12pm 

All administrative offices will be closed on Friday, July 3, 2020 in observance of this holiday. Regular business hours will resume on Monday, July 6, 2020.

DLCA ANNOUNCES INCREASED RACK RATES

June 29, 2020

The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) is notifying the public of the latest rack rate prices issued by Gulf Oil at Lime Tree Bay Terminal effective June 29 – July 5, 2020. Rack rate prices have steadily increased since April 27, 2020 when unleaded, premium and diesel were $0.93/gallon, $0.99/gallon and $1.08/gallon respectively. Today, the rack prices, with the .14/gallon tax, are $1.6100 for regular, $1.6900 for premium and $1.54 for diesel.

Additionally, DLCA conducted its territory-wide fuel price survey on Monday, June 29, 2020. “Use the DLCA fuel survey data to make wise informed decisions,” said DLCA Commissioner Richard T. Evangelista. “Consumers should purchase fuel from the lowest priced retailers to encourage greater competition amongst the retailers.” Fuel surveys are included for comparative viewing and transparency.

On St. Croix, the lowest prices for self-service regular and self-service premium were found at Five Corners Service Station and One Love Service Station-Golden Rock at $1.959 and $2.359/gallon respectively. The lowest price for diesel was $2.479/gallon at Super Tank Service Station.

On St. Thomas, the lowest prices for self-service regular fuel were found at 1st Stop, 1st Stop Frydenhoj, Gas Works, Ali Baba, Petrus Polyberg and Race Track at $2.899/gallon. 1st Stop, 1st Stop Frydenhoj, Gas Works, Ali Baba and Racetrack has the lowest price for self-service premium at $3.399/gallon. 1st Stop and 1st Stop Frydenhoj has the lowest price for diesel at $3.299/gallon.

On St. John, the lowest self-service regular prices were found at Racetrack at $3.12/gallon. E-C Gas Station came in second with the lowest for self-service at $3.14/gallon for regular. Racetrack and E-C Gas Station has the lowest price for self-service premium at $3.29/gallon. The lowest price for diesel was found at Racetrack for $3.76/gallon.

First Bank to Announce Initiative for Veterans

June 23, 2020

First Bank has made it known to the Lieutenant Governor of the Virgin Islands and the V.I. Office of Veterans Affairs that they are launching a new initiative for Veterans in the territory.

On Tuesday June 23rd, 2020 Mr. José González, VP & Sales Manager and Mrs. Kareema Dover-Hendricks, Insurance Agent at FirstBank Plaza will make the announcement on “The Veterans Voice”. The Veterans Voice is a one-hour radio call in talk show hosted by the director of the Office of Veterans Affairs Patrick Farrell. The Veterans Voice is aired on FM 107.9 every Tuesday evening from 7-8pm.

“Having insight on the upcoming announcement, I am very happy that First Bank is taking this step to assist our Veterans. Our Veterans deserve every bit of it. On the mainland, these opportunities come a dime-a-dozen for Veterans. I don’t usually speak for others, but I know I will be well in line when I say our Veterans will embrace this opportunity”, said Director Farrell.

The VI Dept Of Sports Parks & Recreation Plans on Holding Virtual Summer Camps

June 8, 2020

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands _ DSPR says the purpose of summer camp is to promote socialization, play games, and engage in fun activities with peers and friends and will be free to all who want to log in and join this virtual experience.

The virtual camp begins June 22 – July 31, 2020. Program offerings are Beginner & Intermediate Dance, Cultural Arts and Crafts, the Foundation to Visual Arts, and the Fundamentals of Basketball, Volleyball, and Baseball. Instructors will stream live on Facebook and Zoom each day.

To register,  visit the Facebook page (Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation) for the application, schedules, and updates.

Feel free to call the offices at 340-774- 0255 in the St. Thomas/St. John district and 340-773-0160 for St. Croix or our Director of Sports and Recreation at 340-201-1657 for more information.

Meanwhile the department DSPR has received clearance to reopen all our baseball parks in the territory to host practices only, starting Monday, June 15, 2020. In this and any instance, residents are urged to continue to adhere to social distancing precautions.

Department of Human Resources Announces 90-Day Extension on all Expired Senior Discount Cards

May 27, 2020

(US VIRGIN ISLANDS) – In light of COVID-19 and the associated social distancing guidelines, The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) has granted a 90-day extension for all expired Senior Identification (ID) cards effective March 15, 2020.

The Department is requesting that businesses and banking institutions recognize this announcement (along with the formal letter sent to respective institutions and businesses) as the official extension for Senior Discount Cards in order for seniors to continue to use their Senior ID for banking tractions and all other services requiring a valid Virgin Islands ID.

As of March 2020, the Department of Human Services made the decision to temporarily stop the issuance and renewal of Senior ID to protect the wellbeing of community seniors and the staff by adhering to social distancing and all precautionary measures for COIVID-19. The DHS Senior Citizen Affairs Division anticipates resuming Senior Discount Card renewals operations in June 2020.

 

St. Thomas Man Reported Missing

May 20, 2020

ST. THOMAS, USVI – On May 16 at approximately 5:53 p.m., 70-year-old Stanfield “Stan” Dumas was reported missing by family members.

Dumas is a Black male, standing around 5 feet 10 inches in height. He was last seen around 7:31 a.m. on May 16 leaving his residence in Estate Fortuna, wearing gray pants and a green t-shirt. Family members reported that Dumas went line fishing alone in Bordeaux Bay and never returned home.

The VIPD is asking anyone who may have information regarding this missing person to call 911, the Criminal Investigation Bureau at (340) 774-2211 extension 5569 or Crime Stoppers USVI at (800) 222-TIPS.

DLCA ANNOUNCES RACK RATES AND FUEL PRICE SURVEY

May 13, 2020

The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) is notifying the public of the latest rack rate prices issued by Gulf Oil at Lime Tree Bay Terminal effective May 11 – May 17, 2020. The new rack prices with the .14/gallon tax are $1.3100 regular which shows an increase of $0.17. Premium is at $1.3600, an increase of $0.16 and diesel (ULSD) is at $1.1600 for an increase of $0.01. Currently, the rack rate quoted is only available for the District of St. Croix. Fuel retailers for the District of St. Thomas/St. John purchase fuel from more than one fuel wholesale supplier. As soon as DLCA receives the wholesale rates for each fuel supplier for the District of St. Thomas/St. John, it shall publish the information.

DLCA latest territory-wide fuel price survey was conducted on May 11 and May 12, 2020 on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John. Fuel prices Territory wide remained the same for the past four weeks. Fuel surveys are included for comparative viewing and transparency.

On St. Croix, the lowest price for self-service regular fuel was found at Five Corners Service Station and One Love Service Station-Golden Rock for $1.959/gallon. Big A Service Station has the lowest price for self-service premium at $2.329/gallon. East Way Service Station came in second with the lowest price for self-service regular at $1.969/gallon. The lowest price for diesel was $2.479/gallon at Super Tank Service Station.

On St. Thomas, the lowest prices for self-service regular fuel were found at Ali Baba, Petrus Polyberg and Race Track at $2.899/gallon. Ali Baba and Racetrack has the lowest price for premium self-service at $3.399/gallon. Giant Gas has the lowest price for diesel at $3.399/gallon.

On St. John, the lowest self-service prices were found at Racetrack at $3.05/gallon for regular and $3.25/gallon for premium. E-C Gas Station came in second with the lowest for self-service at $3.09/gallon for regular and $3.29/gallon for premium. The lowest price for diesel was found at RaceTrack for $4.05/gallon.

 

 

Ludrick Thomas Resigns Position of St. Thomas / St. John Chief of Police

May 12, 2020

ST. THOMAS, USVI – Police Commissioner Trevor A. Velinor is announcing the resignation of Ludrick Thomas from the position of St. Thomas / St. John Chief of Police.

Thomas, a 29-year veteran of the Department, turned in his resignation from the position on Monday, effective immediately. Commissioner Velinor accepted his resignation, thanked him for his willingness to serve, and appreciated his years of service. Thomas will return to his prior position of Police Sergeant.

St. Thomas Deputy Chief of Police Steven Phillip is designated Acting Chief of Police. 

Virgin Islands Receives $485,000 To Help Two Health Centers Expand Testing Capabilities

May 11, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded almost $485,000 in federal aid funding to the Virgin Islands to support two health clinics in their efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and expand testing for the virus.

Frederiksted Health Care Inc. on St. Croix was awarded $275,719 and the East End Medical Center on St. Thomas was awarded $209,149.

Health centers will use the funding to expand the range of testing and testing-related activities to best address the needs of their local communities, including the purchase of personal protective equipment; training for staff, outreach, procurement and administration of tests; laboratory services; notifying identified contacts of infected health center patients of their exposure to COVID-19; and the expansion of walk-up or drive-up testing capabilities.

The federal funding is part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, signed into law April 24. Through its Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), HHS awarded $583 million to 1,385 HRSA-funded health centers in the United States and its Territories.

Health Centers are currently providing more than 100,000 weekly COVID-19 tests in their local communities, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 88 percent of HRSA-funded health centers report testing patients, with more than 65 percent of them offering walk-in or drive-up testing, according to HHS.

“Widespread testing is a critical step in reopening America, and health centers are vital to making testing easily accessible, especially for underserved and minority populations,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “Because health centers can help notify contacts of patients who test positive, they will continue playing an important role in cooperating with state and local public health departments.”

To date the Virgin Islands Department of Health has tested 1,242 individuals for COVID-19 in the territory. Of those, 69 individuals have tested positive and 1,115 tested negative. There are currently 58 tests pending.

Virgin Islands Veterans to Be Tested for COVID-19

May 11, 2020

The VA Caribbean Healthcare System will begin testing Veterans residing in the Virgin Islands for COVID-19 at their clinic locations on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Testing will be done by appointment only. Testing will take place 2 days a week for the next 4 weeks beginning on Monday May 11th, 2020.

On Monday’s testing will take place at the St. Croix VA Clinic which is located at the Village Mall in Barren Spot and on Wednesdays at the St. Thomas VA Clinic which is located in the Medical Foundation building behind the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital. Testing at both locations will take place outside of the actual clinics using a drive-thru type scenario.

Veterans residing in the US Virgin Islands that are going to be tested already have been identified and contacted to inform them of their appointment. This does not preclude other Veterans from getting tested. Fifty (50) Veterans have been scheduled for the first day with the possibility of an additional 20 Veterans being tested.

Any Veteran feeling the need to be tested because of having any COVID-19 related symptoms is asked to call the VA Clinical Contact Center at 1-877-741-3400 for further instructions prior to visiting the VA clinic.

 

USVI Assists Critical COVID Patient from Vessel at Sea

May 9, 2020

US VIRGIN ISLANDS—Governor Bryan’s COVID-19 Task Force has announced that an individual suffering respiratory distress aboard a vessel at sea is one of the territory’s latest COVID positive patients.

The individual, who is hospitalized at the Roy Lester Schneider Regional Medical Center in critical condition was admitted late Thursday evening after the vessel in which that individual was aboard was apparently denied entry into Puerto Rico.

Governor Bryan said Friday that to the extent possible, the USVI will assist in providing any humanitarian assistance it can during this pandemic.

“From what we know, this individual who was suffering respiratory distress needed immediate medical attention and probably would not have survived a days-long trip to the U.S. Mainland without acute care,” said Governor Bryan. “Giving this patient a fighting chance is the right thing to do.”

Governor Bryan added that first responders in the Virgin Islands “are among the best and take every precaution to protect not only themselves but our community as well.”

The vessel left Charlotte Amalie at noon on Friday.

Governor Bryan Proclaims May As Hurricane Preparedness Month in USVI

May 8, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. issued a proclamation designating May as Hurricane Preparedness Month in the Territory, as states and territories in the United States are observing National Hurricane Preparedness Month to raise awareness for emergency and hurricane preparedness.

Governor Bryan also designated May 3-9 as Hurricane Preparedness Week in the USVI.

“Emergency preparedness is the responsibility of every resident. It takes a team effort to ensure that we are ready for any disaster,” Governor Bryan said in his proclamation. “I encourage individuals, families, organizations and businesses within our community to make emergency plans, put together an emergency supply kit and join in local efforts to become a community preparedness partner.”

Hurricane Season begins officially around the country on June 1.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles to Implement Phased Reopening COVID-19 Safety Protocols

May 3, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS— In accordance with Governor Albert Bryan Jr. phased reopening of the territory, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will be implementing phased reopening protocols from Monday, May 4, 2020. Director McIntosh and the staff of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles are implementing the following procedures to safeguard the community and the employees:

Customers who wish to obtain moving permits, permits to ship vehicles off-island, title transfers of new and used vehicles, and duplicate documents, must drop off the required documents to a designated drop box at any bureau office, in a sealed envelope. Customers are required to provide pertinent contact information, such as phone numbers and email addresses. The bureau will then schedule an appointment for each customer to pick up their documents and pay for the service. The bureau will only accept money orders, a certified check, or a business check. Applications and a list of the required documents are available on our website at bmv.vi.gov.

Registration renewal services will not be offered in person until further notice. Director McIntosh is encouraging the community to take advantage of the bureau’s online vehicle registration process. During the period from March 18, 2020 to June 30, 2020, the bureau will waive the requirement for inspection for any customer that renew their vehicle registration online. If customers need assistance in setting up an account or for technical assistance, please email the bureau at info@bmv.vi.gov.

For driver’s license related services, customers are required to make an appointment. To make an appointment, please call (340) 713-4268 on St. Croix, (340) 774-4268 on St. Thomas, and (340) 776-6262 on St. John.

All road tests and written test for the learner’s permit are cancelled until further notice.

GREASE REMOVAL FROM SEWER SYSTEM CAUSE ODOR ON ST. JOHN

April 30,2020

(St. John, USVI) -The VIWMA says in a statement today that all necessary steps are being taken to mitigate a bad odor the Cruz Bay area on St. John is experiencing. A large amount of grease and debris was recently extracted from the Pond Mouth pump station and most likely the main cause of the problem.

On Wednesday, April 22, VIWMA staff were notified of a manhole overflow. Upon inspection, a large amount of grease and debris caused the pump station to malfunction and the manhole to overflow. The following day, Thursday, April 23, VIWMA staff and contractors pumped/removed more than 9,000 gallons of wastewater containing both grease and debris from the wet well and transferred the material to the Cruz Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant drying beds for disposal. The grease emits a very strong odor and VIWMA staff continues to use odor suppressant to reduce the odor.

The VIWMA today put out a statement to remind the public, especially restaurants and other cooking establishments, that fats, cooking oil, or grease (FOGs), should not be disposed of down any business/household drains or by throwing it into guts/gutters, down manholes or storm drains. Illegal or improper disposal of FOGs negatively impacts the wastewater system and groundwater.

Although most restaurants have closed or scaled back business operations during COVID-19, grease dumped down drains can stay in public sewer lines, travel through the sewer network, and accumulate in the pump station wet well where it ultimately affects the operation of pumps, causing overflows at the nearest downstream manhole.

VI Code Title 19 Chapter 56 § 1555 (e) and (b) states all businesses producing waste oil must employ an authorized permitted hauler to dispose of the used product. Violators are subject to a fine of not less than $1,000 and/or 180 days imprisonment.

 

Governor Bryan to Send Revision to the Cannabis Legislation to the Legislature

 

April 27, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During a press conference Monday to update residents on COVID-19, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. gave an indication of his plans for a phased-reopening of the Territory’s economy and provided details on several financial issues directly affecting the community.

The Governor also announced the Territory’s fourth fatality from COVID-19, a 67-year-old St. Croix woman who died in her home and had not been hospitalized and tested positive for the virus after her death. To date, 780 individuals have been tested for the novel coronavirus, with 716 of them testing negative for the virus, and 59 testing positive. Of those who tested positive, 51 have recovered, and five tests are pending. The Governor said he is preparing to issue a new executive order that will describe the phased reopening of non-essential businesses and the guidelines by which they are to adhere. He also pointed out that the current stay-at-home order expires at midnight on April 30.

Governor Bryan likened his approach to reopening the economy to a three-legged stool, with one leg representing safety and the public health, one leg representing the USVI’s economic concerns and the third leg representing our rights to personal freedoms.

“Over the next few weeks, and perhaps months, we will try to optimize the balance of these concerns. That will require some trial and error. As we approach this phased reopening, we will take things one step at a time,” Governor Bryan said. “If we find that we are heading in the wrong direction as a community, we will fall back to the prior restrictions. Our progress depends on the cooperation of the general public.

“Part of our roll-out will include an alert system, and we will try to make our decisions and the reasons for those decisions as clear and transparent as possible,” he said.

The Governor also said that during the next two weeks he will be sending legislation for consideration to the 33rd Legislature, including efforts to change the definition of “in person,” which Governor Bryan said currently is outdated because people are ever-present no matter where they are because of instant messaging, video and cell phones.

“It is past time that our law reflects these technological advancements, and the current situation mandates that we adjust post haste,” the Governor said.

Governor Bryan also will send a revision to the cannabis legislation to the Legislature, and he said that his Administration has gathered further public input about the proposed cannabis law and has addressed specific concerns of individual senators.

“As the economic disaster the last few weeks has affected GERS greatly, it is our hope that we can have a greater sense of exigency in implementing all the things that can help us regain solvency,” the Governor said. “Once again, it is not the panacea, but certainly cutting the annuity of retirees by 30 percent cannot be the path either.”

Governor Bryan also said he is transmitting a request to extend the current state of emergency executive order to July 12. “Currently, the law only allows us to request a 30-day extension. We are asking the Legislature to consider 60 days due to the infrequency of hearings and the fact that we will most likely be in this state of emergency for the balance of the summer,” the Governor said.

Also Monday, Governor Bryan formally announced the Your Energy Stimulus (YES) program that will assist residents and businesses in paying their V.I. Water and Power Authority electricity bills with a $250 credit for active residential accounts and a $500 credit for active business accounts. The credit will be applied to and appear on the May power bill as YES Cares Act Credit, and it cannot be converted to cash. Unused portions of the YES Cares Act Credit will be applied to the following month’s bill.

The Governor also announced that the Virgin Islands Department of Labor has issued 1,595 unemployment checks totaling $1,110,365, and the department continues processing unemployment claims for residents. Governor Bryan also announced that as of Monday morning, the federal Small Business Administration is again accepting applications from businesses in the U.S. Virgin for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers businesses loans that will be forgiven if the company keeps all employees on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for rent, mortgage interest or utilities.

“To date, 240 Virgin Islands businesses have received more than $62 million under the PPP,” Governor Bryan said. “I want to encourage all small businesses to please take advantage of this program.” Regarding the federal stimulus checks, the Governor expressed his frustration that the U.S. Treasury has failed to issue the policy to administer the funds to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and he called on Delegate Stacey Plaskett to redouble her efforts in getting that money to the Territory.

“We are not second class citizens and are quite tired of being treated as such,” Governor Bryan said. “The latest conversations indicate the payments will be delayed until the end of May or June. This is unacceptable, and we will continue to work to get this money to our residents.”

The Governor closed by announcing that on Friday, May 1, with the guidance of the Department of Health officials, he plans on broadening the scope of what business and recreation can be conducted safely.

“It’s going to be a while before we get through this, and we have to be trusting and brave in order to make it. This is totally uncharted water. No one has been here before, and we are adjusting to the virus and the myriad situations that it creates by the minute,” Governor Bryan said.

“We will continue to be vigilant and use all the information and resources we have to grow the economy, respect your personal freedom and, most importantly, keep you and your family safe,” he said. The Governor’s next update on COVID-19 is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.

 

Governor Bryan Updates Residents on COVID-19

4/24/2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During a press conference Friday to update residents on COVID-19, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. shared some positive news about the Territory’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic that the Virgin Islands Department of Health is currently tracking only a single active case.

“This, without a doubt, is welcomed news but certainly not cause for celebration, as we are still very much in the fight against the spread of coronavirus in our community,” Governor Bryan said.

He also noted that Friday marked Day 80 of his Administration’s official response to COVID-19.

To date, there have been 731 people tested for the virus, with 642 of those tests coming back negative, 54 cases testing positive, including three fatalities, and 35 tests pending. There are no COVID-19 cases at either hospital.

Despite the positive track the virus appears to be taking in the Territory, Governor Bryan said his Administration continues to stockpile resources and supplies to fight the spread of the virus and currently is looking for additional health care professionals.

“We are pursuing several avenues to provide additional staffing,” the Governor said. “We are in final negotiations with Doctors Without Borders, the Islamic Medical Association and other programs to bring physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, infection specialists and others to bolster our team.”

Governor Bryan said his team is diligently staying prepared for what could come next.

“We have done a good job mitigating the spread, but as I continue to say, unlike a hurricane, we do not know whether we are at the front, in the eye or at the tail of the storm,” he said.

Governor Bryan also said the Virgin islands Department of Labor continues to build capacity while processing unemployment claims.

“We recognize that many businesses have had to substantially limit their operations and, in some cases unfortunately, close their doors, consequently causing many residents to lose their jobs,” he said Friday. “As of yesterday, the V.I. Department of Labor has issued 1,390 unemployment insurance checks totaling $969,176.”

Governor Bryan also announced that water-testing has resumed at the Territory’s public beaches and that all 31 beaches that are tested were cleared for use.

“That’s fantastic news,” the Governor said. “I want the public to remember, though, that the prohibition on mass gatherings of over 10 still remains in effect. And even in these groupings, please maintain safe social distancing, at least 6 feet from one another, and you should limit your contact to people in your household.”

The Governor also thanked all members of the health industry, particularly those individuals on the front line in dealing with COVID-19, for their hard work, dedication and sacrifice, and he wished Happy Ramadan to the Islamic communit

VIWMA: PROPANE TANKS MUST BE DE-CAPPED BEFORE LANDFILL DISPOSAL

April 22, 2020

(Virgin Islands) The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority cautions residents and solid waste haulers that propane tanks must be empty, depressurized, and de-capped before disposal at the landfills. Propane tanks contain flammable gas which can potentially explode when compressed, and thus should not be concealed in household garbage. Solid waste haulers have the responsibility to remove unacceptable waste, such as propane tanks, from their trucks as directed by VIWMA personnel and in accordance with Territorial and Federal laws, rules and regulations.

The regulations apply to all propane tanks, including those attached to vehicles or appliances, as well as campfire propane tanks. Residents can dispose of unwanted propane tanks by returning them to the propane company. Tanks can also be prepared for disposal by a professional who would remove the leftover propane remaining in the tank, depressurize the tank and remove the valve, or de-cap the tank. The tank will then be disposed of in the metals section of the landfill. Propane Gas Companies are asked to contact the Authority’s Office of Compliance prior to the disposal of propane tanks. 

VIWMA REMINDS RESIDENTS TO ONLY FLUSH TOILET PAPER

April 22, 2020

(Virgin Islands) The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (“VIWMA” or “Authority”) reminds all residents to only flush toilet paper down the drain. Do not flush disinfecting wipes nor other non- flushable items. Always dispose of non-flushable items in the trash. While the CDC and WHO continues to encourage disinfecting surfaces in your home and workplace to prevent the spread of COVID-19, never flush disinfecting or other wipes down the toilet. Disinfecting surfaces will prevent the spread of COVID and placing used wipes in the trash shall keep the Virgin Islands wastewater collection systems free from blockages.

Toilet and sewer backups are an environmental hazard and can pose a threat to human health. Backups and overflows onto our public streets are a challenge to the dedicated VIWMA employees. Baby wipes, food, hair, grease and oil; these items can damage your homes’ internal plumbing and septic systems along with the Territory’s sewer lines, wastewater pump stations and treatment facilities. Addressing these backups and overflows cost the Authority up to a half-million dollars annually, as well as diverts resources away from preventative maintenance.

Governor Bryan Contacts Congressional Leaders To Request Additional Federal COVID-19 Relief

April 21, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — In his continuing efforts to lobby the federal government for help in the Territory’s fight against COVID-19, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. sent a letter to Congressional leaders requesting additional federal assistance for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Governor Bryan requested a number of items, in addition to the emergency measures he requested from the Congressional leaders on April 8.

“The U.S. Virgin Islands is uniquely dependent on tourism. The devastating impact of the pandemic across our entire tourism sector – cruise ship arrivals, airline passengers and traffic, resorts and hotels, restaurants, and all related services – has been an enduring disaster without apparent end,” Governor Bryan wrote in the letter.

“Further, the cruise ship lockdown has now been extended to an additional 100 days,” he wrote.

The Governor said to overcome this disaster, the USVI needs and requests a cash infusion through:

*Cancellation of Community Disaster Loans from Hurricanes Irma and Maria ($300 million) * An increase in CARES Act funding through a change in the set-aside for the insular areas ($206 million) * Waiving the local cost-share for Hurricanes Irma and Maria (about $500 million) and the current COVID-19 disaster declaration (TBD)* Cancellation of the Unemployment Trust Fund Debt (about $60 million)

Governor Bryan also requested:

Full reimbursement of federal tax provisions imposed on the USVI by the CARES Act; Earned Income Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit; and other federal enactments paid by local treasury through the Mirrored Tax Code * Equal treatment and reimbursement to local hospitals equivalent to that provided to hospitals in the States * Promotion of investment in the Territory as a path to economic stability and sustainability * Forgiveness of SBA loans from Hurricanes Irma and Maria *Enhanced funding and resources for border patrol and protection to stop the porous entry of high-risk COVID-19undocumented immigrants through the Territory

“We need to put more money back into the Territory. We are trying all sources for possible rescue from this incredible crisis that is not our making or the result of our decision-making: Governor Bryan wrote to the Congressional leaders. “I urge and thank you for favorable action on these requests to benefit the people, businesses and government of this U.S. Territory.”

Congress currently is considering another national stimulus bill to supplement the COVID-19 assistance provided through the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.

eCivis Grants Management Online Program Goes Live

April 20, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and Office of Management and Budget, Director Jenifer O’Neal have announced that the Government of the Virgin Islands is implementing the eCivis grants management digital software, which streamlines and reduces the red tape traditionally associated with the grants management process.

eCivis has fully automated the grants management process through the full life cycle of a grant – from solicitation to expenditure – and it will be used by every agency and department of the Government, eventually including the semi-autonomous entities.

The system enables state data collection; analysis and reporting on successful applications; grant dollars received; missed funding opportunities; and compiling data on awards, sub-recipients,and grant matching.

The system went live on March 9, 2020, which was the first day of training for more than 100 employees from every agency and department and is being managed by the Office of Management and Budget’s Federal Grants Management Division. Employees were trained on the proper use and navigation of the system by eCivis staff.

The program also provides cost allocation software and other professional services associated with grants management. Collaboratively, the eCivis system helps ensure more efficient use of all grants awarded to the Virgin Islands, decrease the time spent administering the grants, and allow for more time servicing residents of the Territory.

The eCivis grants management system is an integral part of Governor Bryan’s management agenda, which calls for the increased use of technology to make the Government more efficient and cost-effective and to improve customer service.

Implementation of eCivis also establishes a system that standardizes data collection and reporting processes across the entire government and promotes transparency by producing more timely and accurate reporting and compliance with federal grant requirements, such as the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200).

Governor Bryan pledges to continue his efforts at making the Government of the Virgin Islands more efficient and accountable through innovative solutions to address age-old problems across all agencies and departments.

Governor Bryan Plans to Reopen Beaches on Monday

April 17, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During Friday’s COVID-19 update at Government House in Christiansted, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. said he plans to reopen the Territory’s beaches on Monday, April 20, and cautioned residents who plan to go to a beach to remain mindful of social and physical distancing guidelines and to have plenty of space between families at the beach.

Governor Bryan also gave his condolences to the family and friends of the St. Thomas woman who became the second person in the Territory to succumb to COVID-19. The victim was 72 and had underlying health maladies and contracted the virus through community spread.

As of Friday morning, 458 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 in the Territory, with 373 tests coming back negative, 51 testing positive and 34 tests pending. Of those testing positive, 46 persons have recovered and two people have died. The Virgin Islands Department of Health currently is tracking three active cases.

Regarding the reopening of the beaches, Governor Bryan said water quality testing will not become available until later next week.

“Beachgoers will be swimming at their own risks. We ask that you be especially cautious in the waters that have been recently visited by boaters,” Governor Bryan said. “As soon as they are able, DPNR will provide a beach update.”

The Governor also reiterated that the prohibition of congregations of more than 10 still is in effect.

“I am encouraging you to keep your family as far away as possible from everyone else’s family,” Governor Bryan said. “If we are unable to self-regulate our use of the beaches, I will have no choice but to order them closed again. In order to limit mass gatherings at our beaches, beach bars and restaurants are to remain closed.”

The Governor also addressed current discussions the White House is having with U.S. governors about developing a plan to reopen the country.

“This guidance provides a very useful framework for us as we contemplate those decisions locally,” he said. “We will provide more information on those decisions in the coming days.”

The plight of elderly and disabled residents was also addressed by the Governor, who said he has heard many complaints from them about the difficulty in finding transportation to run daily errands.

“We are mindful of this concern, and we are looking at two possibilities: opening up VITRAN services or contracting with private taxi companies,” he said.

Governor Bryan concluded his remarks by taking the opportunity to implore the community to take an active part in helping stop the recent spate of violence by reporting, anonymously if preferred, any criminal activity to law enforcement.

“We had a spate of violent crime on the island of St. Thomas,” the Governor said. “At a time when the community needs to work together to fight against a common enemy, this is a sad and disappointing turn of events.”

Governor Bryan asked the community to help identify the perpetrators, their co-conspirators and their motives.

“If you know something, say something,” Governor Bryan said. “If you are unwilling to contact the VIPD directly, then call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.”

Governor Bryan’s next COVID-19 briefing is tentatively scheduled for Monday, April 20.

VIWMA to Begin Routine Sewer Lines Cleaning on Strand Street Frederiksted

April 17, 2020

St. Croix, USVI - -The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA or “Authority”) Preserving Paradise team advises the public they will begin routine sewer line cleaning on Strand Street in Frederiksted commencing on Monday, April 20, 2020 and concluding on April 21. While the work is progressing, portions of Strand Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from Fisher Street to Market Street. Traffic will be rerouted accordingly within the limits of the cleaning operation. Please heed to the directive of the VIWMA Officers and the respective traffic controls.

Sewer lines transport wastewater from homes and businesses to the main wastewater treatment plants. Sewer line cleaning is a preventative maintenance tool used by the VIWMA to identify and remove buildup in sewer lines that may cause sewage overflows onto public streets, affecting homes, businesses and adversely impacting public health and the environment.

Governor Bryan Approves Measure allowing the Government to issue up to $120 million in Revenue Anticipation Notes for Gov't Operations to Fight the COVID-19 Virus.

April 15, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Tuesday took action on four bills, including approving a measure allowing the Government to issue up to $120 million in Revenue Anticipation Notes for government operations to fight the COVID-19 virus.

Bill No. 33-0287 will help the Government of the Virgin Islands mitigate cash flow issues resulting from the economic impact of the Coronavirus, according to Governor Bryan’s letter to Senate President Novelle Francis Jr.

“I commend the Legislature for acting promptly on this measure as this bill will provide substantial liquidity, enable the Government to offset revenue losses due to the impact of COVID-19, and avoid layoffs of government employees,” the Governor wrote.

Governor Bryan vetoed Bill No. 33-0290, which seeks to reduce the amount of time that the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority can “back bill” customers and redefine the utility’s billing cycle, because he said a reasonable period of three months limiting back billing already is in place under ACT 7373.

The Governor said that all businesses need to have an ample amount of time to correct errors, both in favor and against customers, and that most errors often are not identified until two billing cycles have passed.

“To limit WAPA, or any business for that matter, to only one billing cycle or thirty days to correct an error could be crippling,” Governor Bryan wrote in the transmittal letter.

The Governor also said Bill No. 33-0290 would create an inability for WAPA to bill after a disaster, such as a hurricane when delayed billing is essential.

Governor Bryan also said the bill does not take into consideration the potential interference with WAPA’s bondholder responsibilities to not change any operating financial terms that could affect the payment of bonds.

“As I understand this bill to be reactionary to WAPA’s change in billing, we must also recognize that the current back-billing limitation is restrictive enough,” Governor Bryan wrote.

 

Parties feuding over Jeffrey Epstein’s fortune tell judge in Virgin Islands: You decide

April 14, 2020.

Seeking to move ahead with a victims’ compensation fund, lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein’s estate have asked a judge to ignore concerns of the attorney general of the Virgin Islands and allow the creation of a fund that’s been stymied since last November.

The co-executors of the Epstein estate — Richard D. Kahn and Darren K. Indyke — filed their response before the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands last Friday at the start of the Easter weekend, but it became public on Monday. The pair, chosen by Epstein to settle his estate shortly before his reported jail-cell suicide last Aug. 10, angrily fought back against an April 7 filing by Attorney General Denise George that seeks to exert oversight.

“The attorney general has no right to inject herself into the program, dictating its policies, procedures and administration,” lawyers for the co-executors wrote. “To allow her to do so would rob the program of its independence, one of its most critical attributes.”

The filing called on the Superior Court to give a final OK to the creation of the compensation fund, which the estate proposed last November. Attorney General George has thrown a wrench into those plans, putting liens in January on two islands that were owned by Epstein, and the liens have made it difficult for the estate to transfer money around and pay employees and bills for Epstein’s far-flung properties.

George wants the estate to allow a noted child-sex victim advocate, Marci Hamilton, to join the proposed fund to review matters. The attorney general also alleged that language that would release the estate from litigation in exchange for compensation would prevent the victims from seeking action against third parties who may have participated with Epstein in his trafficking of women and abuse of underage girls.

Lawyers for the co-executors said the opposite is true and pointed to Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s one-time muse and longtime business associate. Maxwell has been hiding since Epstein’s death and recently brought a claim against the estate alleging that Epstein promised to pay her legal expenses and asked the estate to also pay for her personal security.

The purpose of the release, lawyers argued, “is to have the estate avoid being pulled into litigation by individuals who claim that the estate is legally responsible for their actions.” George brought a civil enforcement against the estate earlier this year, labeling it a criminal enterprise. She is also trying to push co-executors to step back from non-disclosure agreements Epstein had with his employees, arguing the estate is stymieing her efforts to investigate.

In filing their renewed request for expedited approval of the compensation fund proposed last Nov. 14, lawyers for the co-executors took a swipe at George, who is relatively new to the post, saying that “the attorney general has no business forcing the court to act as umpire on each of her dissatisfactions with the program.”

It’s unclear when the court might rule, but both sides have now filed documents declaring they are unable to break the impasse and want a judge to do so.

 

 

Governor Bryan, Anderson Stewart Family Foundation Announce $1 Million Grant to Fight COVID-19

April 13, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and the Anderson Stewart Family Foundation announced Friday that the foundation has given a grant of $1 million to the Virgin Islands Department of Health for equipment and to provide services to residents in the department’s fight against COVID-19.

The grant will be used to purchase items on the Governor’s list of needed supplies, including rapid testing kits, N95 masks, personal protective equipment, respirators and laser infrared thermometers. Funds also will go towards providing stress counseling and mental health services to residents dealing with the impact of the Coronavirus on the Territory.

“This incredibly generous gift helps us at a most crucial time in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the Territory. Our community spread is just starting and these supplies are desperately needed for mitigation and response. The DOH needs to have the ability to act now,” Governor Bryan said. “The Anderson family have been strong supporters of the USVI and their commitment to making our community better has been unwavering and this is another in a long list of instances in which the Anderson family has stepped up to support these islands.”

William S. Anderson, Topa’s executive chairman, said the grant is to support the healthcare personnel who are on the front lines of the battle against Coronavirus.

“On behalf of our family, I want to convey to the Virgin Islands community that our thoughts are with them in this time of global crisis,” Mr. Anderson said. “We have been operating in the Virgin Islands for nearly 40 years and we feel strongly about giving back to this community and to doing what we can to help in the efforts being made by the doctors, nurses, paramedics and all those who are on the front lines in the fight against this virus.”

he $1 million donation will be facilitated through the Virgin Islands Partners for Healthy Communities, a domestic 501(c)3 corporation, and it will be disbursed through the Department of Health.

The essential items that will be purchased with the grant funding will be distributed to the following agencies and community partners:

• Virgin Islands Department of Health & Health Care Organizations • Juan F. Luis Hospital • Roy Lester Schneider Hospital • Territorial Community District Distribution Campaigns • Virgins Islands Department of Education • Virgin Islands Police Department • Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections • Virgin Islands National Guard • Virgin Islands Department of Justice • Community Partners to include (Ten Thousand Helpers, Women’s Coalition, The Village)

“We are pleased to be able to step in at such a critical time to assist the Governor and the Department of Health so Virgin Islanders can be assured their medical professionals and first responders have the resources needed during this pandemic,” said Judy Munzig, the Anderson Stewart Foundation’s chairwoman.

Richard Berry, president of Topa Equities VI, said making the grant to the Government of the Virgin Islands was the right and natural thing to do.

“As we are still rebuilding from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, it is especially important to us to provide funds to help improve our health services during these perilous times,” Mr. Berry said. “Having been born and raised in the Virgin Islands, I am proud to work for a company so committed to putting people first, both its employees and the people of the Virgin Islands.”

The Anderson Stewart Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization through which the Anderson Family supports educational, healthcare and other community-based organizations, including The University of California, Los Angeles, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and many other organizations. Anderson grants in the USVI have supported teachers and their students for two decades. In 2018, The Foundation donated $5 million to various non-profit organizations in the USVI in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes.

April 9, 2020

(US VIRGIN ISLANDS) - The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) announces that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will issue additional SNAP benefits to current (SNAP) recipients during the months of April and May. Households not already receiving the maximum benefits will receive a supplemental allotment to bring the amount of benefits received up to the maximum allotment for a household of that size. This action is part of the provisions set forth by the Families First Coronavirus Responses Act of 2020.

Existing SNAP households that do not currently receive the maximum allotment per household size will receive a supplemental allotment in April and May. Please note the maximum allotment per household size listed below:

• 1: $249 • 2: $457 • 3: $654 • 4: $831 • 5: $987 • 6: $1184 • 7: $1,309 • 8: $1,496• Each additional person: $187

The Supplemental Allotment for April will automatically load to recipients’ SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards on Saturday, April 11, 2020. The Supplemental Allotment for May will automatically load to recipients’ SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards on Saturday, May 16, 2020.

 

Governor Bryan Orders Closure of Territory's Beaches

April 6,2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Monday closed all the beaches in the Territory until April 20 in an attempt at curbing the COVID-19 virus and as a way to discourage some residents from ignoring the stay-at-home order and negating social and physical distancing.

“We have a considerable way to go before we reach our peak, which is projected not to be here for another two to three weeks,” Governor Bryan said during Monday’s press briefing at Government House in Christiansted.

To date, 283 individuals have been tested for the Coronavirus, with 222 testing negative, 43 testing positive and 20 tests still pending. Of the 43 positive cases, 36 of those individuals have recovered, one person has died and six other active cases are being closely monitored by the Virgin Islands Department of Health. Of those six cases, one patient is hospitalized with COVID-19 at Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix and two patients with COVID-19 are hospitalized at Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.

“For the most part, we have done good as a community in following the Department of Health and CDC guidance to help contain the spread of the virus, but we still have some in our community who are not taking this seriously enough,” Governor Bryan said.

“Effective today, we are closing all beaches in the Territory. This order will remain in effect through Monday, April 20,” Governor Bryan said. “The Virgin islands National Guard will be deployed to support VIPD and DPNR to enforce this order.”

The Governor expressed regret that the Easter holiday would be impacted by the spread of COVID-19; however, he reiterated that all places of worship must remain closed during the stay-at-home order, which is in effect until April 30.

“We applaud the churches and houses of worship that have found creative ways to allow the members of their congregations to continue practicing their faith during this time of great tribulation,” Governor Bryan said.

During the press briefing, Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion discussed the recent change in guidance by the CDC regarding the use of masks. The purpose of the new CDC recommendation is to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

“The use of face coverings is a voluntary public health measure. We currently have no mandates to wear masks,” Commissioner Encarnacion said. “We do recommend that you utilize a face mask if you are ill or if you will be in close contact with someone who is elderly or has a compromised immune system.”

Before signing off to take questions from the media, Governor Bryan thanked the brave health care workers on the front line of the fight against COVID-19 and once again urged residents to stay at home.

“The White House is referring to the next two weeks as the nation’s next 9-11 or Pearl Harbor moment,” Governor Bryan said. “We can’t afford a 9-11 or Pearl Harbor here in the Territory, so I am appealing to you, tell your friends, your family and your loved ones to do the right thing and to stay at home.”

VING Gave Support with Airport Screening

April 3, 2020

ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands – Members of the Virgin Islands National Guard met at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport to discuss screening protocols for incoming passengers, April 1, 2020.

The screening protocols will provide additional measures to prevent further exposure and infections amongst the population. These Department of Health protocols consist of screening criteria established to identify passengers who could possibly be infected with the Coronavirus.

"Due to the unknown status of the passengers, directly after offloading the aircraft, each passenger will fill out a checklist immediately," stated Col. Ivan Udell, director of operations.

After being evaluated using the screening checklist by an appropriate representative, the passenger will be instructed to contact the Department of Health Epidemiology COVID-19 Call Center if they present signs for concern. Those not exhibiting any symptoms will be instructed to depart the airport and follow the stay at home directives and monitor themselves for the next 14 days as the COVID-19 Health Alert indicates.

Brig. Gen. (VI) Kodjo S. Knox-Limbacker, the adjutant general, along with key personnel, war-gamed the strategy with other agencies to man, resource, properly configure, and secure testing sites. Each local and federal government agencies' convey methods to maintain crowd control, and facilitate a smooth operation.

A rehearsal of concept was conducted to include possible scenarios and resolutions. "It is a process that is still in planning motion; however, as we go along, we will devise plans to make it better," said Command Sgt. Maj. Kent Bellot, state command sergeant major.

"We recently had a sufficient amount of supplies delivered today, and are currently awaiting the electronic scanners. In the near future, we should be able to have our equipment set up to can scan crowds as they come off the plane to detect temperatures of passengers as they offload more quickly," stated Limbacker.

Numbers of those infected may be dwindling; however, these precautions are necessary strides in keeping our Territory safe.

Agency partners in attendance were the Virgin Islands Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, Virgin Islands Port Authority, Puerto Rico Disaster Medical Assistant Team, United States Customs and Border Protection, and Airport Operations.

 

President Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration For the U.S. Virgin Islands

April 2, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, granted a Major Disaster Declaration for the Territory, triggering the release of federal funds to mitigate the health and economic devastation brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The declaration designates federal assistance to be used for emergency aid related to health care efforts of Coronavirus and peripheral issues arising from the pandemic. The federal assistance will be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and will provide 75 percent federal funding for all islands in the Territory.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. also has requested federal aid for persons and households affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and that request for individual assistance currently is under review by the federal government.

“While this is welcome relief and will assist our efforts to contain the spread of the virus, this declaration is not as expansive as we have hoped,” Governor Bryan said. “The measures required to effectively respond to the health crisis have created an economic crisis across the nation and in our territory and we are hoping for additional support for our dislocated workers, small business owners, farmers and fishermen.”

Among the specified uses for the public assistance that have been approved are:

* Management, control and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety, such as Emergency Operation Center costs and disinfection of public facilities.

* Emergency medical care, including medical treatment of infected persons in a shelter or temporary medical facility, use of specialized medical equipment and medical supplies

*Medical sheltering · Purchase and distribution of food, water, ice, medicine and other consumable supplies

*Security and law enforcement

* Movement of supplies and persons · Communications of general health and safety to the public

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor named William L. Vogel as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

 

USVI Eligible for $2.9 Million COVID-19 Funding From U.S. Department of Justice

April 2, 2020.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — The Law Enforcement Planning Commission (LEPC) has announced that the Virgin Islands is eligible for $2,932,867 in immediate funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, which is providing funding to assist first-responder through the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) program.

Funds awarded under the CESF program provide the Territory the opportunity to obtain resources to assist first responders in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the coronavirus.

Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to, overtime, equipment (including law enforcement and medical personal protective equipment), hiring, supplies (such as gloves, masks, sanitizer), training, and addressing the medical needs of inmates in the Bureau of Corrections.

The LEPC serves as the Territory’s state administering agency and is the lead agency in obtaining and managing this much-needed funding provided by the U.S. Department of Justice. LEPC is working in conjunction with the Department of Health, Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, and Property and Procurement to use this funding to expedite the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other needed supplies.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. said the funding is a welcome addition to the Government of the Virgin Islands’ efforts in the battle against the COVID-19 virus.

“Our first responders, like our health care workers, are the first line of defense in helping to minimize the spread of Coronavirus in the Territory, and we need to protect them the best we can,” Governor Bryan said.

“Because their essential duties take them throughout the Territory daily, they are among those who face the highest risk of contracting the virus, and we are grateful for their work in helping keep our islands safe and healthy.”

 

Governor Bryan Extends State of Emergency to April 30, Stay-at-Home Order, Business Closures Remain in Effect

March 30, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During Monday’s Government House press briefing, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. announced he is extending the State of Emergency, as well as the stay-at-home order; the closure of non-essential businesses territory-wide and limiting restaurants to take-out and pick-up orders only, through April 30 in further efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, the Governor ordered the closure of all beach restaurants, effective immediately, in an effort to curtail people gathering in groups and ignoring the call for social distancing.

As of Monday afternoon, 180 persons have been tested, with 126 coming back negative, 30 testing positive and 24 cases still pending. Of those who tested positive, 11 are on St. Croix, 17 are on St. Thomas and two are on St. John.

“We have been fortunate, but we have been vigilant thus far,” Governor Bryan said. “But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that we will be exempt from this virus. We will not be exempt from this virus.”

Once again, Governor Bryan stressed the importance of complying with social distancing guidelines and staying at home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out as the best way to “flatten the curve” and stop the spread of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus.

He also specifically called out convenience stores and gas stations that are not taking measures to keep people from congregating and gathering in groups.

“Let me warn you, or promise you, any establishment found in violation of this statute will be subject to closure and/or permanent revocation of said business license. This is not a joke,” Governor Bryan said. “We are wasting valuable resources in sending our officers out there to curtail this type of activity. If we catch you, we’re going to shut you down.”

Governor Bryan also said his Administration already has begun preparations to issue the federal stimulus funds, which he estimated at $40 million to $50 million, as soon as they become available from the U.S. Treasury.

“But this will not be enough. We have a long and treacherous road ahead,” Governor Bryan said. “We are fighting this virus two disasters at a time – one on the health care front and one on the economic front.”

Governor Bryan’s next update on the Territory’s Response to the COVID-19 virus is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.

In observance of the USVI Day of Prayer, Governor Bryan Directed All Business in the Territory to Cease from Noon to 1 p.m. on Monday.

March 29, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has issued a proclamation calling for a “U.S. Virgin Islands Day of Prayer, Fasting and Reflection” on Monday, March 30, 2020.

“I invite all Virgin Islanders to join in thoughtful prayer and reflection on the state of our nation and our Territory on March 30, 2020, the Virgin Islands Day of Prayer, Fasting and Reflection,” Governor Bryan said in the proclamation.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has issued a proclamation calling for a “U.S. Virgin Islands Day of Prayer, Fasting and Reflection” on Monday, March 30, 2020. “I invite all Virgin Islanders to join in thoughtful prayer and reflection on the state of our nation and our Territory on March 30, 2020, the Virgin Islands Day of Prayer, Fasting and Reflection,” Governor Bryan said in the proclamation.

In observance of the USVI Day of Prayer, Governor Bryan further directed that all business in the Territory cease from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday.

“Governors throughout history have called for days of fasting and prayer over the condition of their state and nation. We specifically need to thank God for the healthcare providers and caretakers and persons providing supporting services in our fight of the Coronavirus pandemic,” Governor Bryan said in the proclamation.

In observance of this day, the Office of the Governor has partnered with local broadcasters to air prayers throughout the day on Monday. Participating stations, WGOD, the WJKC family of stations, WSTX, WSTA, DaVybe, Reef Broadcasting, and WVWI, will broadcast a five-minute prayer by various local clergy every hour on the hour, for 24 hours, beginning 12 a.m. on Monday and lasting through 12 a.m. on Tuesday.

In addition, Governor Bryan, First Lady Yolanda Bryan and local clergy will host a prayer service from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, which will be live-streamed from Government House in Christiansted via The Virgin Islands Consortium’s website, www.viconsortium.com, and Facebook page, Facebook.com/viconsortium. The Virgin Islands Consortium has also partnered with the Office of the Governor for this day of prayer. The Governor encourages all residents of the community to participate in this day of supplication.

“President George Washington stated in his proclamation of October 17, 1789, ‘It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor,’” the Governor said.

USVI Department of Human Services’ Medical Assistance Program (MAP) Ready to Help Through Uncertain Times with Telephone Interviews and Relaxed Federal Guidelines

March 27, 2020

In response to the Covid19 Pandemic, the USVI Department of Human Services’ Medical Assistance Program (MAP) announces relaxed federal authorities for enrollment and eligibility, patient care, and provider enrollment requirements.

For New Medical Assistance Program Applicants:

1. Determine eligibility: For anyone who is lacking adequate medical insurance (under-insured / un-insured) whether employed or unemployed.

2. Download MAP application from the DHS website and print, complete, scan and email along with supporting documents (see website) to sttjmap@dhs.vi.gov or stxmap@dhs.vi.gov.

People who do not have access to the internet can call the numbers listed to obtain the information or can pick-up an application (at our locations at Knud Hansen Complex in St. Thomas and Mars Hill in St. Croix), fill it out and return all forms to one of the drop boxes located at: ▪ Knud Hansen Complex in St. Thomas ▪ Mars Hill Complex in Frederiksted St. Croix 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday – Friday Dropoff to lockboxes which will be strategically placed at DHS locations in both districts.

Re-certification for Current Clients:

For current customers, your eligibility will automatically be extended by approximately three to six months. We will continue to extend your eligibility until further notice. There is no need to come into an office to re-certify during this public health emergency.

What does this mean?

Households whose current certification period expires March 31, 2020, your benefits will extend through June 30, 2020, or through September 30, 2020. These households are not required to contact the office to activate this provision. A new recertification notice and/or card will be mailed to your address on file.

Households that need to report changes to household circumstances are encouraged to contact the local office in your district for assistance.

Access to Care / Patient Care Coordination:

To make an appointment with a private physician, individuals should still get a referral from their Primary Care Provider. Once the referral is received, an appointment with the private physician can be made directly. If this requirement is lifted due to the coronavirus, an update will be shared with all members and providers.

If any MAP clients require off-island travel, they must first contact the DHS – MAP office for coordination and authorization.

For additional information regarding Access to Care / Patient Care, utilize the numbers below to receive answers for questions.

• St. Croix: (340)772-7113 and (340)277-3392 • St. Thomas: (340)715-6931 and (340)690-7254 • St. Thomas/St. Croix: specialservices@dhs.vi.gov

 

 

Governor Bryan Sends Proposed Legislation Requesting Up to $60 Million to Fight COVID-19

March 25, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has proposed legislation requesting that the Virgin Islands Legislature approve the use of $60 million to supplement government operations in anticipation of a COVID-19 related economic downturn.

The 33rd Legislature is scheduled to take Governor Bryan’s proposed legislation up during a legislative session on Friday, March 27, 2020.

The Governor’s proposed measure will authorize the use of any available source of public funds to issue revenue anticipation notes for working capital to supplement government operations amid an impending downturn in revenue collections as a result of COVID-19.

Governor Bryan said Wednesday that while the public health and safety of the territory’s residents is his primary concern and the focus of the government’s response, it is also important to proactively plan for the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted the global, national, and local economies substantially, and the Virgin Islands has, as a consequence, experienced and expects to continue to experience, among other economic factors, significant disruption to the travel and cruise tourism industry,” Governor Bryan said.

The proposed legislation also would authorize the Governor to:

*Negotiate the final terms of all borrowing vehicles approved by the legislation as the Governor and the Public Finance Authority deem necessary

*Execute and deliver all documents and agreements necessary in connection with the borrowing.

*Pay all expenses associated with the issuance of any authorized borrowing.

The legislation also would require the Virgin Islands Department of Finance to report to the Senate Finance Committee no later than 15 business days following any draw of principal borrowed and provide information regarding the purpose for which the funds were used, as well as a description of the source of the repayment.

The interest rate on any revenue anticipation notes or bonds would not exceed 6 percent, and the maximum principal amount that can be borrowed is capped at $60 million.

Governor Bryan Calls for Territorial Day of Prayer During Wednesday’s COVID-19 Update

March 25, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—In a press conference on Wednesday to update residents about the Territory’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. called for a Territorial Day of Prayer to take place on Monday, March 30.

“As we continue to do everything within our power as a government to mitigate the spread of this virus in our community, and call on you to do your part to protect yourselves and your loved ones, we are also calling on our faith community to assist,” Governor Bryan said.

“But, while we pray for healing and supplication, I want to reiterate the importance of staying home and adhering to the guidance given by the Department of Health and CDC,” the Governor said.

More details about the Territorial Day of Prayer will be announced.

The Governor also updated residents on the Government of the Virgin Islands’ response to the COVID-19 virus. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were no additional confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, and the count remains at 17.

To date, the Territory has investigated 103 persons suspected of carrying the virus, with 56 of those persons testing negative. There are 30 tests still pending, with 10 on St. Croix, 17 on St. Thomas and 3 on St. John.

During Wednesday’s press conference, which included updates from Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez and VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, the Governor also gave updates on a number of other topics.

Virgin Islands Port Authority

The Virgin Islands Port Authority is reporting a marked drop in travelers. With the recent suspension on new hotel bookings that went into effect Wednesday, VIPA expects to see fewer travelers arriving in the territory in the upcoming weeks.

Flights

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Seaborne and Cape Air have each re-ported reduced schedules or cancellations of flights to and from St. Thomas. No airline cancellations have been reported for St. Croix at this time. Travelers are encouraged to contact their airlines directly for flight in-formation prior to arriving at the airport.

Inter-Island Car Ferries

All three car ferry companies operating between St. John and St. Thomas are operating on modified ferry service schedules.

Inter-Island Passenger Ferries

The St. John-St. Thomas passenger ferries are operating as normal, but with reduced passenger capacity. The QE IV ferry which services the St. Croix-St. Thomas route, has halted operations until further notice.

Edward Blyden Terminal

Ferry operations at the Blyden Terminal ended at noon Wednesday and will be closed until further notice. However, Customs services will be available at the Blyden Terminal from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Cargo Operations

Cargo operations in the territory will continue as normal. The V.I. Port Authority reminds the public that all its seaports and mariners operate under the rules and regulations set by the United States Coast Guard.

Small Business Administration

The Government of the Virgin Islands applied for a disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and it received notification Monday from the SBA that the request was approved. The Government also received notification from the SBA of changes to help borrowers still paying back SBA loans from previous disasters. The SBA is deferring payments for all SBA Loans through December 31, 2020.

 

 

 

 

USVI Department of Human Services’ Cash, Food and Energy Assistance Programs Ready to Help Through Uncertain Times with Telephone Interviews and Relaxed Federal Guidelines

March 25, 2020

(US VIRGIN ISLANDS) - In response to the Covid19 Pandemic, the USVI Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Family Assistance announced that their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - formerly known as Food Stamps), cash, and energy assistance programs are ready to serve existing and new clients through conducting interviews via telephone rather than in person for everyone’s health and wellness.

New Clients:

Please call (Monday – Friday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.) the Division of Family Assistance offices for information on how to apply: • St. Croix: (340) 772-7100 • St. Thomas/St. John: (340) 774-2399 or (340)774-0930

Customers may find applications for the programs on the DHS website: www.dhs.gov.vi. The application packets may also be found at the following locations (Please ask for applications at each store):

St. Croix / St. Thomas: • Plaza Extra and Pueblo Supermarkets, St. Croix • Seaside Market & Deli

St. John: • Star Fish Market • Dolphin Market • Pine Peace Mini Mart • Lily’s

Completed applications can be mailed, emailed, faxed or dropped off at drop boxes located at the SNAP office on each island. Details can be found on the DHS website and within the application packet. Within three to five days of the receipt of the application, The Department of Human Services will schedule telephone interviews and answer questions.

For current customers whose certification period expires on April 1, 2020, May 1, 2020 and June 1, 2020, the certification period has been extended for two months, considering the Covid19 Pandemic in the Territory. Customers are not required to go to The Department of Human Services’ offices to re-certify at this time.

 

Governor Bryan Orders Residents to Stay at Home, Non-Essential Businesses to End In-Person Operations

March 23, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. announced Monday, during the Government House Weekly Press Briefing, details of an executive order issued over the weekend requiring non-essential businesses to close and increased measures to restrict leisure travel to the territory.

Governor Bryan’s Executive Order closes all bars within the territory effective Monday, March 23, and restricts dine-in eating at restaurants. The governor’s order also limits all taxis and safaris to one half of their previously allowable capacity.

The governor’s executive order also prohibits all hotels, guest houses, villas, bed and breakfasts, Airbnb, and charter vessels from accepting new bookings or new guests for 30 days.

The following businesses are allowed to remain open after Wednesday, March 25, as long as they operate within the existing mass gathering restrictions and promote the recommended social distancing requirement of 6 feet or more between individuals:

• Places that sell food or produce • Places with medical purposes • Core life services, such as gas stations, banks, laundromats, and shipping companies • Places that provide shelter • Media outlets

Governor Bryan’s executive order also suspends portions of the V.I. Code, including:

• Sections relating to landlord-tenant actions and establishing the right of actions to recover possession of real property and demand for rent

• Provisions prohibiting Government retirees in certain professions from receiving their annuities if they return to the workforce

Previous measures to limit mass gatherings remain in effect. Last week, Governor Bryan ordered all non-essential government employees to stay home or telework and have closed schools and head start facilities throughout the Virgin Islands. The governor has also ordered the closure of senior centers and restricted visitation to eldercare facilities.

All government operations are restricted to essential services until April 6, 2020, and all schools will remain closed through at least April 14, 2020.

To date, we have investigated 74 persons suspected of carrying the virus, and 55 of those cases tested negative, 17 positive, and we have two tests currently pending,” Governor Bryan said during the weekly press briefing. “Sixteen of the 17 positive individuals are quarantined and thankfully recovering at home without any need for hospitalization.

“I am happy to announce that our first positive case, reported a couple of weeks ago, has now fully recovered and has tested negative for the presence of the virus,” Governor Bryan said.

The Total Number of COVID-19 Cases in the US Virgin Islands has Jumped to 17.

.March 22,2020

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health has received confirmation of eleven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 disease. This brings the territory’s total confirmed cases to seventeen—nine in the St. Croix district and eight in the St. Thomas/St. John district.

One of the latest St. Croix confirmed cases was a Limetree Bay contractor who has not recently traveled outside of St. Croix and has been quarantined. This marks the first case of “community transmission” of COVID-19 on St. Croix. Epidemiologists have conducted contact tracing as a part of their routine investigation process with the support of Limetree Bay Staff. All contacts of the Limetree Bay case, inside Limetree Bay, are also being quarantined. This confirms that there is person-to-person spread in both districts and underscores the importance of social distancing.

Watch:Governor Bryan Provides Update on COVID 19 Response

Governor Bryan Advises Residents to Stay at Home

March 21, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Governor Albert Bryan Jr. is ordering non-essential businesses to close and residents to stay at home as the Administration ramps up its response to COVID-19 in the Territory.

The Governor stresses that while there is no curfew in place, Virgin Islanders need to continue adhering to the containment strategies put forth by the Virgin Islands Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control to contain the spread of coronavirus in the Territory.

“If we all do our part and adhere to these containment strategies, the U.S. Virgin Islands will weather this storm, as we have many times before,” Governor Bryan said. “If you are not working at an establishment or in a job deemed essential during this state of emergency, you are asked to stay home and avoid any unnecessary social interactions.”

n addition to asking residents to shelter in their homes, Governor Bryan instituted further measures in his Administration’s effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Territory:

• Non-essential businesses should cease in-person business operations until at least Monday, April 6, and should require their employees to stay home

• Hotels, guest houses, villas, bed and breakfasts, and similar businesses should not accept new guests for the next 30 days.

“We are asking our residents to stay-at-home unless absolutely necessary,” Governor Bryan said, “We do not take these decisions lightly. We are motivated by the critical need to keep our community safe.”

Government House has issued the following guidance regarding essential businesses:

Places that sell or produce food:

• Grocery stores, convenience stores, and pet supply stores. This includes stores that sell groceries and sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of homes.

• Restaurants that prepare and serve food or beverages, but only for delivery, drive-through, or carry out.

• Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing.

Places with medical purpose:

• Home-based care for seniors, adults, people with a disability, or children.

Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, people with a disability, and children.

Media outlets:

• Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services.

Core life services:

• Gas stations, and auto-supply, and auto-repair. • Banks and credit unions. • Hardware stores and building supplies. • Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers. • Plumbers, electricians, custodial/janitorial workers, handyman services, funeral home workers and morticians, carpenters, landscapers, gardeners, property managers, private security personnel, and other service providers who provide services to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation to properties and other essential businesses. • Businesses that supply office or computer products needed by people who work from home. • Businesses that supply other Essential Businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate. • Businesses that ship, truck, provide logistical support or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences, essential businesses, healthcare operations, essential infrastructure. • Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for activities of daily living. • Businesses that provide parts and services for essential infrastructure. • Professional services, such as legal or accounting services.

Childcare for essential workers:

• Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted to work.

Places that provide shelter:

• Hotels, shared rental units, and similar facilities.

• Homeless shelters and social services for economically disadvantaged people.

Governor Bryan and Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion will provide an update on the Territory’s response to COVID-19 at 1 p.m. Monday at Government House in Christiansted

Governor Bryan Requests Disaster Declaration From U.S. Small Business Administration

March 21, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—Governor Albert Bryan Jr. sent a letter to U.S. Small Business Administration Director Kem Fleming requesting a disaster declaration to help Virgin Islands businesses mitigate the crippling financial losses they are experiencing because of the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Territory.

The Governor has requested that the Small Business Administration (SBA) make the declaration so that local businesses will be eligible to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Many local businesses are struggling because of the extraordinary and necessary measures residents are taking, such as social distancing and avoiding groups of more than 10 people. In accord with those and other efforts aimed at minimizing the spread of the virus, local businesses have shortened their hours and are limiting the number of people allowed into their establishments.

Additionally, because of the temporary suspension of cruise ship calls to the Territory and the drastic reduction in air travel, the Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure sector has been particularly hard hit.

On Friday, Governor Bryan put in place additional measures to try to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus – such as limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people, restricting restaurants to take-out or pick-up orders and prohibiting inside dining service and limiting the workforce to essential employees only.

“Because our Territory is reachable only by air and sea, the sudden, dramatic and accelerating drops in air traffic, cruise ship arrivals and hotel bookings in recent days threaten to devastate, if not eliminate, economic activity and dramatically depress government revenues generated by this critical sector of our economy,” Governor Bryan wrote in his letter to Director Fleming.

The Governor said the first wave of employees affected by workforce reductions as a result of the COVID-19 virus is expected to be about 11,200 people, which will result in job losses, increased unemployment claims, reduced spending, and drastically shrinking government revenues.

 

 

Health Department Announces Three Additional Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

March 20, 2020

St. Croix, US Virgin Islands (March 20, 2020)—The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health has received confirmation of three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 disease. This brings the territory’s total confirmed cases to six—two in the St. Croix district and four in the St. Thomas/ St. John district.

The latest St. Croix confirmed case was a resident who recently returned home and was self- quarantined at home and has recovered. One of the latest St. Thomas cases was a close contact of a prior case that quarantined with the case, and the second confirmed case for the St. Thomas/St. John is a Cyril E. King airport employee with no recent travel history. This marks the first case of “community transmission” of COVID-19 in the U.S.V.I. This confirms that there is person-to-person spread in our community and underscores the importance of social distancing.

Persons Under Investigation Update (74 CUMULATIVE TOTAL):

• Positive: 6 (2 STX; 4 STT) .

• Negative: 25 (11 STX; 11 STT; 2 STJ)

• Pending: 43 (15 STX; 28 STT)

“Although community spread now isn’t surprising, this new development marks a turning point in this pandemic, and we have to remain vigilant to the social distancing guidelines provided and all do our part to protect the most vulnerable of our population,” said Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion.

“We urge our residents to stay safe and shelter in place as much as possible during this time of COVID-19 disease; this will help prevent the spread and protect our community,” the commissioner added.

Health officials have been closely monitoring the global outbreak and building capacity to prevent the spread of the disease in the territory and to respond to positive cases.

The department’s Epidemiology Division continues to conduct testing for cases that meet the Person Under Investigation (PUI) criteria, conduct contact tracing and assist healthcare providers and the public with up-to-date education as to what to do to prevent additional cases.

While the risk of severe illness for most is low, the risk for transmission is not and precautions must still be taken to avoid spread within the community. A person may also get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

 

 

Bureau of Motor Vehicles to Temporarily close from March 23 to April 6, 2020

March 20, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS— Director Barbara Jackson-McIntosh would like to inform the motoring public that as per Governor Albert Bryan Jr. press conference on March 19, 2020, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will be temporarily closed from March 23, to April 6, 2020.

As Governor Bryan announced, driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations will be extended for 60 days during this state of emergency. However, the community can take advantage of the bureau’s online vehicle registration process. During this period, the bureau will waive the requirement for inspection for any customer that renew their vehicle registration online. If customers need assistance in setting up an account or for technical assistance, please email the bureau at info@bmv.vi.gov or call our offices at (340) 713-4268 on St. Croix, (340) 774-4268 on St. Thomas, and (340) 776-6262 on St. John.

 

VI Dept of Labor Announces COVID-19 State of Emergency Policies for the Public

March 20, 2020

 

VITRAN Announces Suspension of Public Transportation

March 20, 2020

The Virgin Islands Department of Public Works announces today that it is suspending public transportation. VITRAN will not be running its regular routes in the territory, however, ADA Paratransit services for passengers traveling for Dialysis and medical care will continue.

JFL Updates Community on Preparation and Restricts Visitation to Patients

March 19, 2020

As a result of COVID-19 and the need to ensure the safety of visitors and staff of the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center (“JFL”), visitors and visitation hours at JFL have been revised to better care for patients and reduce the spread of COVID-19:

*General visitation (attached blue flyer) hours have been revised to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. unless a parent or guardian of a pediatric patient or infant.

*Prior to being allowed to enter the facility, each visitor will be screened. If you are sick, have a fever or a confirmed case of COVID-19, you cannot visit or accompany a patient. Contact Department of Health at 340-712- 6699. o Patients may only have 1 visitor with them during visiting hours o No visitors under the age of 18 or over the age of 65 will be allowed to visit patients. o Persons with any immunocompromise will not be allowed to visit patients. o Persons who are pregnant will not be allowed to visit patients. o Visitors must wash their hands (or use sanitizer) before entering and after leaving rooms and hospital buildings.

* Isolation patients (attached flyer with green left border) will be allowed only 1 visitor at a time for up to 2 hours per day. Visitors will be given special protective masks, gloves and gowns that must be worn at all times. No personal items, bags or cell phones will be allowed into the room of isolated patients. As such, all items must be left in your vehicle. These measures are taken to protect the spread of COVID-19 as we are aware that this infectious disease lives on surfaces for prolonged periods of time. Following these changes will reduce the transmission of disease to visitors and their friends and family outside the hospital

*If a visitor begins to show signs and symptoms of COVID-19, you will be asked to depart promptly and notify the V.I. Department of Health.

*Any visitor that causes disruption or fails to comply with the new visitor protocol will be immediately removed from hospital premises.

 

V.I. Bureau of Corrections COVID-19 Announces Protocol

March 19, 2020

Effective immediately, BOC will suspend in-person visitations at all correctional facilities to limit the opportunity for COVID-19 to be introduced into a facility. It will also suspend all volunteer programs, work details, and furloughs until further notice.

BOC is screening for COVID-19 at those points where the virus would be most likely to enter the system: the offender reception centers where individuals new to the prison system are first housed.

 

DLCA REQUESTS INVENTORY LIST FROM ESTABLISHMENTS

March 18, 2020.

On March 13, 2020, Governor Albert Bryan, Jr., declared a State of Health Emergency in the United States Virgin Islands and the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs simultaneously issued a price freeze order on items and services related to the prevention and spread of COVID-19 at the price level existing immediately prior to the proclamation of the state of emergency in order to protect the residents of the Territory from price-gouging and other unfair business.

To protect consumers, the department has requested retailers to submit a current list of their inventory with prices and expected delivery of future inventory” stated Commissioner Evangelista.

Commodities covered under the COVID-19 State of Emergency are:

*Protective masks used to protect you from others if you are sick

*All personal protective equipment, including gowns, booties, gloves, & other protective gear

*Sanitizing & disinfecting supplies, such as hand sanitizer, gel, wipes, cleaning supplies for surface cleaning & all commercial cleaning supplies. For example: clorox, lysol, vinegar, aloe vera, rubbing alcohol

*Toilet paper and other paper wiping products

*Dettol and any other hand or body washing soap

*Water

DLCA commends businesses for doing its best to maintain inventory at fair prices. Continue to submit price lists, to adhere to price freeze and know that you have an opportunity to petition for price increases prior to increasing prices with essential support for cost changes justifying an increase.

DLCA IDENTIFIES LOWEST FUEL PRICE TERRITORY-WIDE

March 18, 2020

The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) is notifying the public of the latest wholesale or “rack rate” price for fuel from Gulf Oil Pricing and Limetree Bay. Currently, only retailers in the District of St. Croix purchase fuel from Limetree Bay. The rack rate is the price used by refineries to sell gasoline to wholesale gasoline sellers and/or gas stations.

For the period between March 16-22, 2020, Gulf Oil Pricing and LimeTree Bay “rack” prices are 1.3500 for regular, 1.5600 for premium and 1.64000 for diesel (ULSD). Rack rates reflect the St. Croix district only. As soon as the rack rate for St. Thomas/St. John is available, DLCA shall disseminate the information.

Territory-wide, the lowest price for self-service is found at Ziggy’s Island Market, LLC. on St. Croix at $2.39 per gallon.

 

 

VI National Guard Anticipates Requests to Utilize Federal Facilities

March 18, 2020.

ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands – While on a conference call with The Chief National Guard Bureau, Brig. Gen. Kodjo Knox-Limbacker led a staff walkthrough of the 210th Regional Training Institute and the dining facility, at the Estate Bethlehem compound, March 16, 2020.

The Virgin Islands Department of Health is the lead agency for the COVID19 and currently, there is no request for support to the VING. However, preparations to provide a facility to support VIDOH COVID19 requirements are under consideration.

“It was good for us to understand the needs of our health partners from both the private and public stakeholders to understand where the needs are,” said Knox-Limbacker. “Moreover, where we can help from a facility and personnel standpoint, and what equipment we have for transportation to facilitate the necessary care for personnel within our territory.

The VING anticipates a request from Gov. Albert A. Bryan to the Department of Defense for the utilization of VING federal facilities to support COVID19 requirements.

The VING is preparing to provide drivers to operate military vehicles to transport patients.

"Between the Department of Health and Department of Human Services, they will be the ones providing medical care to those infected," said Col. Jean Collins, deputy state surgeon for the VING.

The VING is postured to support the transportation of commodities, personnel, and first responders in response to COVID19 requirements.

The visitors were able to see our vehicles, specifically the HMMWV Ambulance with Advanced Armor Protection or the HMMWV M997A3, which will be used to transport patients.

Representatives from the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, the Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency, Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center, the United States Public Health Services working for the Centers for Disease Control, and AreoMD made-up the visitors who toured the facility.

"This was an evaluation of the facility to see if they could support the layout for those individuals that become effected and need medical attention," said Command Sgt. Maj. Pete Stapleton, commandant for the 210th RTI.

Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority Adjusts Operations Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

March 17, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—To help ensure the safety and well-being of the U.S. Virgin Islands community, its staff, clients and stakeholders, the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA) has adjusted its operations on both St. Thomas and St. Croix due to the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Staff will operate remotely by telecommuting to continue serving its clients, stakeholders, and the community.

The USVIEDA will discontinue walk-in customer services, in-person appointments and manual delivery of documents and other items effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020 until further notice.

To make a payment, file a document, or make any additional inquiries, please email info@usvieda.org or call 340-714-1700 (St. Thomas) and 340-773-6499 (St. Croix).

The USVIEDA has taken these precautionary measures to help avert the spread of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) virus to its team, clients, stakeholders, and the community it serves. This adjustment in operations is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. declared a State of Emergency for the USVI on March 13, 2020.

“After in-depth deliberation, we determined that it is necessary to take these steps to do our part in ensuring that the health of our staff, clients, stakeholders, and the community is protected,” said Kamal I. Latham, VIEDA Chief Executive Officer. “The well-being of the people of this Territory is important to us, and we deem these measures appropriate to help promote social distancing as recommended by the CDC. We look forward to continuing to work with our clients and economic development partners during this time.”

or more information, or to receive answers to inquiries, on any USVIEDA services and programs offered through the Economic Development Commission, Enterprise Zone Commission, Economic Development Bank, and the Economic Development Park Corporation, please email info@usvieda.org. For media/PR inquiries, please contact marketing@usvieda.org.

The USVIEDA encourages its clients and other businesses in the community to create a contingency plan for their operations during this time of crisis. The business community can review the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers regarding the coronavirus at www.cdc.gov as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles COVID-19 Safety Protocols

March 17, 2020

In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Director McIntosh and the staff of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles are implementing the following procedures to help limit the spread of the Coronavirus:

*The bureau will be serving a limited number of customers daily, no more than 6 persons at a time will be allowed in the Vehicle registration renewal offices.

*Director McIntosh is encouraging the community to take advantage of the bureau’s online vehicle registration process. During the period from March 18, 2020 to May 31, 2020, the bureau will waive the requirement for inspection for any customer that renew their vehicle registration online. If customers need assistance in setting up an account or for technical assistance, please email the bureau at info@bmv.vi.gov

*All road tests and written tests for the learner’s permit are canceled until further notice.

*In coordination with the Virgin Islands Police Department, the bureau will automatically extend customers driver’s licenses that expired between March 16 and May 31, 2020 to June 15, 2020. Customers will not be charged late fees during this period.

*In the case of customers who are traveling and may need to renew their driver’s license or obtain an ID card, the customer must present proof of travel and will be seen by appointments only. To make an appointment, please call (340) 713-4268 on St. Croix, (340) 774-4268 on St. Thomas, and (340) 776-6262 on St. John.

VIWMA Announces One-Day Change in Mid-Island House to House Trash Pick-up Service

March 17, 2020

(St. Croix, USVI) – March 17, 2020 - The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) Preserving Paradise team, at the request of our municipal solid waste contractor, Bates Trucking and Trash Removal, Inc., is advising the community of a one-day change in the Mid-Island Solid Waste Route, Zone 3A and 3B, house-to-house service. This one-time change is to allow Bates Trucking staff to attend the funeral of a former co-worker.

Residents in Herman Hill, Catherine’s Rest, Rosegate, Humbug, Veteran’s Land, Tamarind Estate, Cane Garden and Work and Rest are advised your regular Friday pickup will be changed to Thursday on March 19 so please place your trash curbside the night before.

The VIWMA reminds all residents to properly prepare your household waste for disposal. Place your household waste in a sealed bag and place it in a securely closed receptacle. Make sure to clean and sanitize your receptacles regularly.

Human Services Temporarily Closes Head Start Programs As Precaution Against Spread of COVID-19 Virus

March 17, 2020.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (VIDHS) Head Start Program will temporarily close classrooms Territory-wide beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020, to follow precautionary federal guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, will be students’ last day of school for at least three weeks in accordance with Governor Albert Bryan Jr.’s directive to close schools throughout the Territory. VIDHS staff are to report to work as normally scheduled.

The date for students’ return to school will be determined as the Department works through the COVID-19 pandemic. Classrooms will be sanitized in preparation for having students return to a safe environment when classes resume.

Staff and teachers currently are working to provide Head Start students and their families with learning activities to keep the students’ minds engaged during their time away from the classroom.

Additionally, VIDHS is exploring options for staying in contact with parents and for disseminating educational resources..

The VIDHS Head Start team is developing a plan and will advise students’ families how meals for students will continue to be provided during the closure.

The Department will continue to communicate with all Head Start families, who are asked to stay tuned to email, phone calls, radio, TV and social media platforms, including the Department’s page at Facebook.com/usvidhs for updates.

 

Governor Bryan Closes Schools and Postpones Carnival As Part of Territory’s Response to COVID-19 Virus

March 16, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on Monday announced that as part of efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID 19 in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Territory’s schools, including the Department of Human Services Head Start Program, will be closed for at least three weeks, effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Governor Bryan also said that remaining Carnival events on St. Thomas have been postponed indefinitely.

The Governor said during the Government House Weekly Press Briefing on Monday that he took these actions following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s update Sunday night of its interim guidance on mass gatherings.

“This new guidance recommends that for the next eight weeks, organizers, whether groups or individuals, cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States,” Governor Bryan said.

Also speaking at Monday’s briefing were Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, Territorial Epidemiologist Dr. Esther Ellis, VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, Education Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin, Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte and Virgin Islands Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe.

To date, 21 residents have been tested for COVID-19, with three people testing negative and one person testing positive. The Department of Health is awaiting test results on an additional 8 PUIs and 9 more samples were sent off for testing on Monday.

Governor Bryan also asked businesses in the Territory take efforts to practice social distancing and not allow more than 50 persons at a time into their establishments, with the exception of some large grocery stores and other large stores.

The Governor also said his Administration currently is evaluating the implications of the CDC’s guidance on inter-island ferry transportation. Governor Bryan urged residents not to ride the St. Thomas-St. John ferry unless it is absolutely necessary.

He also asked residents to sign up for push notifications about the coronavirus in the Territory by texting “COVID19USVI” to 888-777, and he asked younger residents to help their parents and grandparents to also sign up for the notifications.

“This global pandemic is ever-evolving. The situation is very fluid. We are using real-time information to make the decisions necessary to protect our community,” Governor Bryan said. “I am urging us all to remain prudent and vigilant, not fearful. If we take the information and do what we need to do to protect ourselves and the people we love, this, too, will pass.

On Friday, the Governor declared a state of emergency in the Territory as part of his Administration’s aggressive efforts to mitigate the threat of the COVID-19 epidemic.

“Our concerns are twofold,” Governor Bryan said during a press conference Friday morning at Government House in Christiansted. “Our primary concern is our elderly population, as they are the most vulnerable to the effects of this virus. Secondly, we want to stay on the offense and constantly ahead of the disease by continually protecting the public from contracting the virus at all.”

Governor Bryan also asked residents who suspect they may have contracted the virus not to go to the hospital and instead call 340-712-6299 or 340-776-1519 and a health care worker will come to them.

The state of emergency, which went into effect immediately, triggers a number of provisions aimed at slowing and lessening the threat of the coronavirus:

· *Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion has assumed authority of all regulation of all health care facilities in the Territory

*DLCA Commissioner Richard Evangelista has activated a price freeze on all items in high demand as a direct result of COVID-19, and his agency is investigating complaints of price-gouging.

*Federal assistance, including access to more federal resources to minimize the impact of the virus on the community, has been expedited.

*There is a moratorium in place on permits for mass gatherings until further notice.

Department of Human Services Asks all Senior Citizens to Sign up for the Emergency Assistance Senior Registry

March 16, 2020

(US Virgin Islands) The Department of Human Services (DHS), the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Virgin Islands Elections System, according to ACT NO. 805, hereby notifies the public that all persons who 60 years and older and persons with disabilities who live alone, are invited to enter their names into an Elder, Dependent, Adult and Disabled Person Disaster emergency assistance registry with one of the respective entities above. Doing so will allow the Department of Human Services to contact the individual and provide assistance and support in the event of a manmade or natural disaster.

To Register:

Please stop by the Department of Human Services, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Virgin Islands Elections System to fill out the registry form or simply call one of the DHS offices to provide your information and have the form filled out for you.

• St. Thomas - Department of Human Services Knud Hansen Building - Phone: (340)774- 0930 x 4109

*St. John - Department of Human Services Cruz Bay - Phone: (340)776-6334

• St. Croix - Richmond Senior Center - Phone: (340)773-6630

Department of Sports Park & Recreation COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS

March 16, 2020

In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation (DSPR) has taken the below preventative measures in alignment with the Department of Health’s recommendations to help protect and continue to serve our community:

• Augmented facility hours territory-wide are 8:00 am – 5:00 pm until further notice.

• Effective immediately, all DSPR sport and recreation programs have been suspended until further notice. This includes any sporting activity or event coordinated by DSPR or held at a DSPR facility.

• All after-school programs (DSPR ran or after-school partnerships) are suspended for three weeks beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

• The Department has suspended the rental of its facilities to minimize exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Applications will not be accepted until we resume regular business practices. Facilities that have been rented within the next 60 days, please call the main office to reschedule; 340-773-0160 St. Croix or 340-774- 0255 St. Thomas.

 

New VI Lottery Safety Protocols

As a result of the COVID-19 Virus and to ensure that everyone’s Safety & Health is protected, Lottery offices in both Districts will operate accordingly:

*Only FIVE (5) customers will be allowed into the lobby at any given time. *Dealers are asked to provide requested ticket numbers in advance to avoid line delays and ensure expedient service. Dealers will be provided with their listings to make those selections once requested in advance.

 Customers/Dealers are asked to be very vigilant. Please avoid the office(s) if you are exhibiting any of the COVID-19 symptoms.

The Lottery’s Executive Director requests that dealers utilize their proxies in that event.

On sight St. John sales will be postponed until further notice. The Lottery  recommends that you travel to the St. Thomas office for required services. 

Lobby hours will remain the same unless otherwise noted, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday.

VIWMA Restricts Walk-In Customers to Reduce Community Spread of Covid-19

March 16, 2020

(U.S. Virgin Islands) The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA or Authority) advises the public that effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Authority will restrict walk-in customers at its’ Demarara, Susannaberg and Estate Glynn offices on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix respectively. All customers, including those residing on Water Island, are urged to call or email requests or concerns and avoid in-person visitation to VIWMA offices and satellite locations. These measures are being enacted to safeguard the public and our staff from potential exposure to the Coronavirus pandemic. This restriction will remain in place until further notice.

Members of the public requesting service provided by the VIWMA are urged to call our hot line at 844-962-8784, the St. Thomas/St. John main line at 340-715-9100, or the St. Croix main line at 340-712-4962 and/or e-mail requests to communications@viwma.org. Service requests can be, but are not limited to, wastewater or solid waste issues, obtaining sewer permits, hauler permits, landfill operations, accounts payable, or any other VIWMA related service.

The VIWMA is taking these and other steps necessary to minimize community spread and ensure that our valued employees are protected from the transmittal of Covid-19.

The Legislature of the Virgin Islands Taking Precautions Against the COVID-19 Virus.

March 15, 2020

Senate President Novelle Francis says today that he has implemented precautionary measures for the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.to help minimize exposure to the virus. The Senate president says these measures are necessary after learning that several individuals either affiliated with the body or have recently visited the senate premises have been under coronavirus observation.

Francis has postponed all committee meetings, including a scheduled legislative session planned for the week of March 16-20. The Legislature will also be closed to all visitors as an added precaution to minimize exposure. In addition, the legislature will be closed on Monday, March 16 to allow for a protocol for COVID-19 to be finalized and implemented.

VITRAN Taking Precautionary Measures in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic Inbox x

March 13, 2020

The Department of Public Works, Office of Public Transportation has ramped up its cleaning efforts to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on its VITRAN buses and facilities. VITRAN recognizes that a large percentage of its patrons are senior citizens and wants to reassure its ridership that extra precautionary measures have been taken to ensure that the buses are safe and clean.

“We want the community to know that the department is keeping a watchful eye on the current state of this pandemic outbreak;” said Karole Ovesen-McGregor, Deputy Commissioner of Transportation. “We are taking an active role in risk mitigation to protect our riders.” The department is urging the community to take personal responsibility and practice good hygiene to reduce their risk of contracting and/or spreading the coronavirus.

For more information on COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus, please visit the USVI Department of Health's website, doh.vi.gov/coronavirus or text COVID19USVI to 888777.