US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

Collected by GVI

Senators grill health on Avera; contract killed

The V.I. Health Department, after facing pushback over its negotiations with Avera, a startup company founded by Governor Albert Bryan Jr.’s daughter and which stood ready to get a $1 million contract to do contract tracing, now claims it killed those negotiations weeks ago.

On Wednesday, V.I. Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion told lawmakers at a Committee of the Whole hearing that Avera was “disqualified” from contract negotiations on July 23 after the company failed to “submit corporate documents on time.”



Health Department confirms 9th COVID-related death

The V.I. Health Department has confirmed a ninth death related to COVID-19 in the Virgin Islands but is refusing to provide any details about the latest victim.

Health Department spokeswoman Jahnesta Ritter did say the eighth recorded death was not the fetus of the seventh victim, as was widely rumored.



24-year-old is territory’s 35th homicide victim of the year

A 24-year-old man was shot and killed Tuesday night in downtown Christiansted, St. Croix, marking the territory’s 35th homicide death this year.

The incident occurred about 10:22 p.m. when 911 dispatchers received a report of shots fired at the Holger Danske hotel on King Cross Street.




Most cruise lines opt to extend sailing halt through at least October

Coronavirus continues to keep the cruise industry at bay, and now most major cruise lines have agreed to extend their voluntary halt to sailing from the U.S. until at least November, although some have already put off sailing until December.

Cruise Lines International Association announced its ocean-faring lines will keep their ships without passengers until at least Oct. 31, pushing a previous no-sail agreement past Sept. 15.

This applies to member lines including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Celebrity, Princess and Disney Cruise Line among others.

All cruise lines continue to fall under a no-sail order from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that applies to U.S. ports that runs through Sept. 30.



Avera Proposal Dropped; Legislature Probes Agencies About Procurement Process

Several government agencies faced scrutiny from senators Wednesday as they defended themselves over no-bid contract proposals and other non-competitive processes used during a state of emergency.

The list of invited testifiers Wednesday was vast and included individuals involved in the most recent contract discussions that stirred political controversy: Department of Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion and Avera Tech co-founder Michael Pemberton. Pemberton did not show up for the hearing.




Bryan Asks for 60 Day State of Emergency Extension

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. has sent a request to the Legislature to extend the territory’s state of emergency order another 60 days, from Aug. 10 to Oct. 9. The state of emergency expands the governor’s powers temporarily and allows the government to bypass normally mandatory spending and procurement procedures.



Workers Hurry to Complete Virgin Islands Census

This week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced it will discontinue counting the nation’s population at the end of September, a month earlier than planned. The local organization is ahead of the game and planned all along to complete its tally by that date.

“We’re 85 to 90 percent completed today,” Tomas Encarnacion, the U.S. Census advisor directing the enumeration of the territory’s population, told the Source this week. “I’m pushing to complete [it] because of hurricane season.”



Senate Moves to Tighten Up Deed Recording

Gwendolyn Hall Brady, director of the Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation, and Dolace McLean, general counsel for the Office of the Lt. Governor, presented a scenario to senators on Tuesday they said happens too often.

Brady and McLean asked senators to imagine a scenario in which a Virgin Islander pays off her mortgage and has clear ownership of her home. She picks up the documents at the bank. But she does not file the documents with the Lt. Governor’s Office Recorder of Deeds. The mandatory home insurance that went with the mortgage ends, and she does not renew it.



Young Man Dies in Downtown Christiansted Shooting

A man was killed Tuesday night in a shooting at a downtown Christiansted hotel, the V.I. Police Department reported.

The victim was identified as 24-year-old Rashawn Wyre.

According to the Source’s homicide list* it was the 15th homicide on St. Croix since the beginning of the year, the 32nd in the territory.



CSU Researchers Now Predicting ‘Extremely Active’ 2020 Hurricane Season

There were no active tropical weather systems of concern to the V.I. in the Atlantic basin Wednesday, but the tropical weather team at Colorado State University issued an updated forecast, saying they now expect the hurricane season to be “extremely active.”

The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team cited very warm sea surface temperatures and very low wind shear in the tropical Atlantic as primary factors in increasing its forecast from its “above-average” prediction issued the day before the season started.



9th Covid-19 Death Reported in USVI, With Latest Fatality Being St. Croix Man in his 40s; D.O.H. Reports 20 New Cases

The V.I. Department of Health reported its 9th Covid-19 related death this evening. The department did not provide information about the death, only that it was on St. Croix. However, the Consortium has learned that the victim, a man, was in his 40s and had kidney issues and also suffered with diabetes.

Governor Albert Bryan told the Consortium Monday that two individuals at the Kidney Center on St. Croix were in bad shape after contracting the disease. “We have some scary stuff with the Kidney Center. We have two people who were infected as a result of one of the dialysis patients traveling. They are really sick,” Mr. Bryan said Monday.



Consortium Parts Ways With Journalist After Revelation of His Involvement in Latest Bid Process for Dept. of Health Contact Tracing RFP

The Virgin Islands Consortium on Wednesday parted ways with its St. Thomas journalist Robert Moore, after Mr. Moore revealed to the publication on Wednesday that his name was represented in a proposal sent to the Dept. of Health by a U.S.-based company for D.O.H.’s new contact tracing request for proposal as “liaison to the Dept. of Health”.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion on Wednesday revealed that the department rejected Avera’s proposal, after previously accepting it, and initiated a new request for proposal process.

Mr. Moore told Consortium Founder and Publisher Ernice Gilbert about his involvement in the latest bid process Wednesday afternoon while a Committee of the Whole hearing on gov’t contracts — sparked by the controversial Avera deal, which the Consortium has reported heavily on — was ongoing at the Legislature.



24-Year-Old Man Shot Dead Near Hotel in Christiansted as Gun Violence Continues to Rock St. Croix

  1. CROIX — A 24-year-old man was gunned own in Christiansted Tuesday night, a killing that represented the third such death on St. Croix in four days. On Friday, two men were killed in separate shooting incidents on St. Croix, prompting police to hold a virtual press briefing to discuss the incident and call on the community to provide information.

According to V.I.P.D. Public Information Officer Toby Derima, on Tuesday at approximately 10:22 p.m., the 911 Emergency Call Center received a report of shots fired at the Holger Danske Hotel on King Cross Street, Christiansted.

On arrival, officers discovered a deceased Black male with multiple gunshot wounds. The victim was identified as 24-year-old Rashawn Wyre.



Judge Says it is ‘Discriminatory’ to Deny Puerto Rico Access to US Aid

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A federal judge on Monday ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. territory access to three federal welfare programs in a major decision cheered by many.

However, the judge also granted a two-month administrative stay of the injunction at the federal government’s request, which means the decision for now will apply only to the nine plaintiffs in the case.

Legal experts warned that they expect the U.S. government to appeal the ruling, and if unsuccessful, to take it as far as the U.S. Supreme Court given the millions of dollars at stake.