Open forum: Implement Shelter in Place Now!

Sen. Janelle Sarauw questions witnesses during Thursday’s Health, Hospitals, and Human Services Committee hearing. (Photo by Chaunte Herbert for the V.I. Legislature)
Sen. Janelle Sarauw (Photo by Chaunte Herbert for the V.I. Legislature)

With the latest updates from the Department of Health, it has become evident, that as a territory, we need to be more proactively aggressive in regard to containing COVID-19 and the potential healthcare fallout thereof. As of this press release, the Department of Health has confirmed six positive cases in the Territory, two in St. Croix and four in the St. Thomas-St. John district with a total of 71 cases. At this rate, the rapid growth in case numbers is alarming, yet the ports remain open with no arrival screening measures in place for travelers coming into the Territory. It is unfathomable at this point not to take stronger action as we need to protect those who are most vulnerable to this virus.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on the islands and the infrastructure of the hospitals have not been fully restored. Because of our very fragile healthcare system, coupled with the overwhelming number of residents that fall within the high-risk category of COVID-19, there is no way the hospitals or Department of Health can sustain services if there is a mass outbreak in the Territory! Reflective across the world, many countries and nations have already implemented stronger actions. Senator Sarauw is urging the Governor to implement shelter in place to help protect Virgin Islanders and to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“It is better to be proactive than reactive, as history has proven. With COVID-19, there is no cure as yet and it is imperative that we take all measures to protect the people of the Territory,” stated Senator Sarauw. “We still have tourists coming into the Territory, people are not following the social distancing criteria and these are all potential risks. The Governor must implement stronger measures! HIV/Aids was a pandemic, the flu of 1918 killed 50 million, and the Black Death killed 200 million. History tells us the grave consequences of inaction, delays and complacency. This government and many businesses are functioning like it is business as usual. It is not!”

Senator Sarauw also urges the community to use proper discretion and to stay indoors as the Territory must keep COVID-19 rates down. “With all due respect Governor, use the executive authority vested to you during a state of emergency in a moment like this to protect Virgin Islanders from those who are not complying. We must fall on the right side of history.”

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