A Beaconite, like many residents, has been critical of several aspects of the government’s Covid-19 response. Some missteps were clear: failing to thoroughly explain the disbursement of the $62.9 million stimulus package; abruptly reversing course on the border reopening plan; and creating a testing and contact tracing apparatus that at times was slow and mismanaged. But when he heard that on Feb. 3 St. Lucia returned to a seven-day state of emergency — during which the country had a 7 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew — he had to praise the Virgin Islands government for largely reviving normal life while keeping the caseload low. The Beaconite knows that many people would argue that normal life hasn’t returned at all; that for many of the thousands of residents reliant on the tourist industry, the coronavirus struggle hasn’t ended but simply changed. He entirely understands this and is extremely grateful to have had stable employment throughout the whole fiasco. He also thinks that more could be done to buoy struggling businesses and encourage tourism. Still, when taking into consideration neighbours like St. Lucia, one has to give the VI government respect for striking a most difficult balance.
One constant about the Covid-19 pandemic has been the blame game being played among residents accusing each other of unacceptable behaviour. It happened again last week, when social media blew up with accusations of queue-jumping and selfishness lobbed toward younger people who went to Dr. Orlando Smith Hospital and a clinic in East End to receive vaccines that presumably should have gone to frontline health care workers or senior citizens. However, there is another side to the story. The Virgin Islands is only the latest place to discover that once a vial is opened it needs to be used within hours, and anticipating each day’s supply and demand is difficult. A Beaconite suspects that, for whatever the reason, not enough high-risk people were available to receive the jabs. Throwing out vaccines is wasteful, especially when the ultimate goal is to vaccinate everyone. These younger vaccine recipients, she believes, did nothing wrong. She hopes these situations will happen less often as health services work out the kinks in the system. However, as always, people should make sure they have full understanding of the circumstances before blaming and shaming their neighbours.
A Beaconite commends Speaker of the House Julian Willock for candidly stating that he is afraid of needles but still chose to get the AstraZeneca shot to do his part in helping the world recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. She similarly doesn’t react well to needles. In fact, she nearly passed out the past three times she’s had blood drawn. She also has some severe food allergies, which was an area of concern during the initial rollout of the vaccine. But, after frontline workers and more vulnerable residents get their jabs, the reporter won’t hesitate to roll up her sleeve. As long as a medical professional is aware of her allergies and standing by to offer treatment on the off chance she has an adverse reaction, she believes the risk is worth it. The Beaconite embraces the opportunity to help reduce the spread of the virus and lauds the hard-working people who contributed to the development and distribution of the vaccine.
Build back better
Mental health is a tricky thing to understand, especially in the face of the looming first anniversary of a life-disrupting pandemic. A Beaconite has covered numerous stories involving mental health throughout her career, and she passionately believes in the importance of eliminating the stigma surrounding it. But still, her hands were shaking a few weeks ago when she picked up the phone to find someone to talk to about the stress she’s dealt with recently. It’s difficult to reach out for help. And one visit isn’t a magical cure-all for eliminating her sadness about the state of the world. What’s important is learning how to arm oneself with the tools to address that anxiety. The fact remains that the Virgin Islands community has found a way to carry on despite the challenges, but people have lost their livelihoods and friends and support structures. The damage may not be as visible as it was with the 2017 hurricanes, but it’s there. The Beaconite hopes residents who need advice can invest the time to find it. United, the VI can build back better.