Health Department Suspects Delta Variant Present in the Territory

St. Croix, US Virgin Islands — The Delta variant of COVID-19 has possibly been identified in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Department of Health has been working with Yale University to test samples from positive COVID-19 cases. Thus far, 84 samples have shown to be variants from sequencing. Of the 84 cases, 65 have been of the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) which is also known as “the UK Variant.” Six samples have been B.1.526.2 (Iota) OR B.1.351 (Beta), and one sample B.1.429 (Epsilon).

Twelve samples are not confirmed to be any of the variants that have been previously identified in the U.S. Virgin Islands and may be the Delta variant that health officials have been very concerned about. Full sequencing results for those 12 samples will be available next week.

The Department has previously reported on the Alpha variant which is estimated to be 40%–80% more transmissible than the wild-type original strain of SARS-CoV-2. The Delta variant is a SARS-CoV-2 mutation that originally surfaced in India in December 2020 and is highly contagious. It then swept rapidly throughout that region and throughout Great Britain as well. The first Delta case in the United States was confirmed in March and it is now the dominant strain in the U.S. with it reaching as close to us as Puerto Rico.

Health officials remain vigilant as they work to get more Virgin Islanders vaccinated. With more unvaccinated people in the territory, this will allow the virus to further mutate into more transmissible and deadlier variants. This is a worry for our small islands. But thankfully, the COVID-19 vaccine is very accessible.

Anyone who is unvaccinated is more at risk of getting COVID-19. The hesitancy or
unwillingness to get vaccinated also harms our efforts to achieve community immunity and
prevent the emergence of new variants that may be resistant to the vaccine.

Currently, 48.1% of the population is fully vaccinated. For us to achieve community immunity,
we need 70% of the population to be fully vaccinated. According to Dr. Hunte-Ceasar “those
who remain unvaccinated continue to drive the pandemic and promote the introduction of more
harmful variants that risk the safety of all regardless of vaccination status.”

Anyone 12 and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine by walking into any of our Community
Vaccination Centers, by calling (340) 777-8227 or by scheduling yourself online at
covid19usvi.com/vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine has proven to save lives and as more people
in our community get vaccinated, the chance of fast-spreading mutations affecting the territory
decreases.

The department’s epidemiology hotline remains open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for
callers to report suspected cases of COVID-19 at (340) 712-6299 OR (340) 776-1519. We are
also offering free vaccines at our pop-up testing sites weekly.

Individuals can also receive the vaccine at our Pop-Up locations. Anyone can pre-register for
pop-up testing online at covid19usvi.com/testing. The following are our upcoming events: 

St. Croix at the Charles Harwood Complex:
Tuesday, July 20th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

St. Croix at the Charles Harwood Complex:
Thursday, July 22nd from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

St. Thomas at Home Depot:
Tuesday, July 20th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

St. Thomas at the Fort Christian Parking Lot
Thursday, July 22nd from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

St. John at the VIPA Gravel Yard:
Wednesday, July 21st from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Best practices such as hand washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing are still effective in
preventing COVID-19. Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion encourages Virgin Islanders to
remain alert and get the COVID-19 vaccine to stop the surge in new positive cases we have seen
recently.