The Biggest Coronavirus Hotspot No One Is Talking About
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. Virgin Islands are up over 3,500 percent in the last month.
COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire across much of the United States. Last week, 46 of the 50 states in the U.S. saw spikes. And while you likely know all about the dire situations in southern and western states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California, there is one part of the country that has seen cases go up over 3,500 percent over the last month—and no one is even talking about it. The U.S. Virgin Islands is now the hottest of hotspots, according to an NBC News report that looked at COVID-19 data provided by states, counties, and U.S. territories.
Over the past month, the U.S. Virgin Islands have seen an exponential 3,533 percent uptick in positive coronavirus cases. For comparison, Florida's growth was 548 percent, Texas's 329 percent, Arizona's 299 percent, and California's 143 percent over the same time period.
The past two weeks have been better for the Virgin Islands, but there was still an astronomical spike in new cases of just over 1,000 percent. That's 10 times the number of new coronavirus cases compared to just 14 days ago.
At first blush, the island territory's numbers appear low—they have reported just over 200 total COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic. But considering that there are just over 100,000 total residents in that territory, that is a very high percentage of the overall population: 1 in 500 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus.
So, why are cases spiking in the Virgin Islands. Well, the island territory reopened to tourists on June 1. According to the Virgin Islands Department of Health, at the time of reopening, they had 70 confirmed cases, two of which were active cases. As of July 13, there have been 217 cases, 105 of which are active. It seems clear tourists from the mainland brought COVID to the Virgin Islands.
On July 9, U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. announced that beginning Wednesday, July 15, residents of states that are COVID hotspots must present test results showing they have tested negative for coronavirus or quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival, similar to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut's approach, he said.
Bryan also issued an order closing bars and prohibiting sitting or standing at bars in restaurants. He also ordered beaches to close at 4 p.m. on weekends.
“Finding the perfect balance between the public health and the livelihood of our community is no easy feat,” Bryan said during the July 9 announcement. “It is a fine line and COVID changes it daily, but tread that line we must, if we are to make it to the other side of this pandemic.” And for more hotspots, check out The CDC Warns That These Are the Next 10 Coronavirus Hotspots.