US Virgin Islands starts relaxing COVID-19 restrictions as cases fall
Coronavirus cases in the United States Virgin Islands have been falling. Since what the VI Department of Health calls the “post-carnival surge” in early May, new cases have begun to cool down.
These numbers require a deeper look, however. For example, cases in St. Thomas have dropped from their height of 953 on May 11 to 440 as of May 20. Good news, but in St. Croix and St. John, cases have doubled and tripled. The latest data from the Department of Health displays a total of 1,198 active infections across the territory.
Infections are still rising.
Still, as the number trends downwards, the Department of Health has announced an endemic status for the territory. This signals an end to restrictions, with individuals urged to take precautions. Essentially, residents must learn to live with the virus as it becomes, to the government at least, a somewhat normal state of affairs.
An endemic disease has a constant presence among a population and follows predictable patterns. According to Healthline, “an endemic disease is present, but it spreads at predictable rates that can be managed by communities”
This change in policy comes as the 2022 political season heats up. An important discussion point was whether the Bryan administration would install new restrictions. The strategy following the surge in cases after carnival festivities was largely unclear until now.
The incumbent governor’s main challenger, Kurt Vialet, called for temporary restrictions to be put in place. Yet, with the change to endemic status, large campaign gatherings are to be expected. The department of health may continue to encourage masks, but another mask mandate is unlikely. With community efforts and steady vaccination rates, COVID-19 can become a predictable disease on the islands. At that point, efforts can be taken to end it completely.
As of now though, the US Virgin Islands department of health urges people to be proactive about their personal health and the well-being of others.