DOH Disputes Claim that USVI COVID Deaths Could Top the World

The V.I. Department of Health reported Sunday that it is “significantly concerned” that researchers and news sources have reported that the mortality rate for COVID-19 in the U.S. Virgin Islands could top the world in per capita pandemic deaths.

The predictions were based upon a single “IHME statistical model,” or Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. The V.I. Health Department said in its Sunday news release the IHME has frequently been criticized.

“It has been previously reported that this model was incorrect 70 percent of the time,” the DOH statement said. “COVID-19 is unpredictable, but these models are also extremely unreliable if used to predict cases or deaths months or even weeks into the future. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a combination of models, of which there are 14 currently available for the USVI.”

These models can be found online.

The consensus of those individual model predictions by the CDC have proven more accurate and suggests that the Virgin Islands is now expected to endure one death each week into October. This is in stark contrast to the single prediction circulated.

That report out of the University of Washington Medical School predicted worldwide COVID-19 deaths could top 4 million by the end of the year, and the U.S. Virgin Islands is likely to see some of the worst fatalities per capita in the world.

The Virgin Islands is currently within the lowest 25 percent of states and jurisdictions for mortality per capita for COVID-19, the territory’s Health Department reported. The USVI has suffered 19 deaths for approximately 100,000 persons. In comparison, those states that have endured the worst have COVID-19 deaths rates that total as high as 150-180 per 100,000 persons.

“It is unfortunate that inaccurate and unreliable information has been frequently circulated nationwide and even here in the territory,” the department’s statement said. “We have been providing the public with thorough, accurate and timely information regarding COVID-19 and our response. We encourage local news agencies to contact our local experts at the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health, do their due diligence in consulting multiple sources and refrain from sensationalism during these trying times.”

The department urged residents to continue following these precautionary measures: stay at home, practice social distancing, wear a mask when in the company of others outside of those in your household, clean frequently used areas thoroughly and wash your hands often with soap and warm water.

Editor’s note: The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs has provided the following cellphone numbers to which residents can report activity that is against the law, including violations of the governor’s executive orders, that may put others at risk or in danger. Information, photos or videos can be texted to the following: General – 340-725-5129. On St. Croix 340-727-7226 and on St. Thomas 340-771-7226. These are cell numbers so callers also can send texts.