Department of Health Issues Guidance for Employees

US Virgin Islands —The Department of Health advises the community that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the Territory coupled with the rapidly increasing community transmission indicates the need for continued vigilance with the established COVID-19 protocols. Further to this Commissioner Encarnacion today revealed that the rapid increase in cases and clinical manifestations of infected individuals are suggestive of the Omicron variant’s presence in the Territory.

Note:
Anyone who is sick, or a close contact of a confirmed case can schedule a COVID-19 test at this link: covid19usvi.com/testing

To mitigate the spread of the virus the Commissioner has issued the following workplace guidance:

Every business and agency should operate as though employees and clients are potential carriers of SARS-CO-o-V-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Employees are to self-monitor for symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, to wear masks properly and consistently unless alone in a room/office, maintain physical distancing, wash or sanitize hands frequently, ensure frequent, high-level environmental cleaning, and practice cough and sneezing hygiene. It is important to remember not to congregate in break rooms where eating commonly occurs.

Emergency Action:
Anyone experiencing respiratory or other severe symptoms should call 911.

Testing:

You should not go to work if you are sick or if you have been identified as a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19. You should remain in quarantine until you receive a negative test result. If you test positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms you are to isolate.

If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, AND are fully vaccinated, you may return to work after quarantining for 5 days and get tested if symptoms develop. If symptoms do not develop, you should return to work and wear a mask.

If you have been exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19 AND you are NOT fully vaccinated, you are instructed to stay home (quarantine) for 10-days and to test on day 7 of exposure to shorten quarantine time if negative.

If you become ill at work and have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, you are to leave work and call either the Epidemiology Hotline (340-712-6299 on St. Croix and 340-776-1519 on St. Thomas) or their provider to arrange to be tested. You must quarantine while awaiting results. Even if the test results are negative for COVID-19, you should remain quarantined until symptoms are resolved.

If you test positive but do not have any symptoms should isolate for 10 days. 

Cleaning:
All offices are expected to practice, at a minimum, daily or more frequent environmental cleaning to prevent the presence of the virus. CDC/EPA has a list of approved disinfecting agents available for reference. Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility | CDC

Offices or sections of buildings where persons who tested positive for COVID-19 have been identified are to be closed, cleaned and disinfected after waiting at least 4 hours. If an employee is found to be positive within the agency, the entire office should not be closed automatically, nor should the entire staff automatically be sent home. Employees can return to work once the office has been properly cleaned and disinfected.

Travel Out of the Territory
Vaccinated individuals can return to work immediately upon return. There will be a mandatory 4-day quarantine for all unvaccinated individuals upon their return and they must get tested for COVID-19 by PCR or Antigen on day 4. These test results must be negative before they can return to work.

The Commissioner reminded the public that the DOH’s mission is to support businesses, government agencies and the public as the Territory maneuvers this unprecedented public health emergency. As guided by Governor Albert Bryan, the DOH asks that everyone make the necessary accommodations for our more vulnerable residents who may become sicker or may succumb to hospitalization if exposed to COVID-19. She emphasized that the most at-risk population are the unvaccinated and vaccinated people who have not received a booster does.

In closing the Commissioner encouraged all government agencies to reach out to their assigned DOH buddy with questions as they arise. Private businesses can also reach out to the Department of Health for consultation on care of their staff and environment during this critical time in our live