There are now 17 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the U.S. Territory.
Health leaders have tested 74 individuals who were suspected of carrying the virus; 55 have tested negative for COVID-19 and two tests are pending.
At a news briefing on Monday, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. said 16 of the 17 people who tested positive are quarantined and recovering at home without a need for hospitalization.
The first reported case which was reported a couple of weeks ago, has fully recovered has tested negative.
Many people in the territory have been concerned about travel, an online petition with hundreds of signatures is calling for Governor Bryan to close the airport and restrict travel to avoid infected people from entering the territory.
Governor Bryan addressed those concerns on Monday, “I want the public to understand that our ports are controlled by the federal government, as they are just like every other state across the country. We are not our own country, we cannot close our ports down whenever we feel like. So in absence of the federal government closing our ports, we are putting restrictions on the hospitality industry to discourage travel.”
So while the territory cannot close the airports, Bryan said they are taking measures to deter tourists from traveling here, “Effective this Wednesday, hotels, guests houses, bed and breakfasts, and the like are restricted from accepting new guests until further notice.” Governor Bryan went on to say the only exception would be for flight crews, people stranded at the airport, or government employees responding to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Several hotels have already closed and have not been accepting visitors.
As far as the inter-island ferries, they continue to travel, but Governor Bryan says ridership is significantly reduced, and there is a small enough amount of people to provide for social distancing.
Effective March 25th, Governor Bryan also announced all non-essential businesses must close, and employees are encouraged to stay at home.
Bars and restaurants cannot seat customers, but can offer food via take-out and drive-through only.
Some essential businesses which can remain open include grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and medical facilities. A full list of establishments which remain open are listed in the Governor’s Executive Order.
Governor Bryan thanked those essential workers who have to continue to work, “We have hundreds of unresolved issues on this ship, but right now we all need to strap in, hunker down and roll in the same direction toward a safe harbor from this pandemic and this global crisis.”
Bryan also thanked the community for doing its part to stay home as much as possible, and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, “We understand that you are nervous, concerned, and yes even scared, but all of us have to work together to get through this. The most helpful thing any non-essential citizen can do is to stay at home, secondly please only disseminate information from verified and reliable sources from the government or from health care officials.”
Although Bryan added, more needs to be done, “We are doing our best to do our part and I ask you in turn that each of you do the best to do your part, please take every precaution to protect yourself and your family from this vicious virus, do not take it lightly whether you’re 18 or 80 it can have an effect on you. 80% of the people who get this virus recover without any medical intervention, but you and your family might be in that 20%, so treat it like you are.”