The final frontier

Beaconites were thrilled to see Virgin Islands-based billionaire Sir Richard Branson launch Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo into space on Sunday. After a mid-air launch, Sir Richard and three Virgin Galactic employees briefly floated around the spaceplane’s cabin before heading back toward the ground a few minutes later. More than 600 passengers have booked a trip so far, including celebrities like Justin Bieber, Elon Musk and Leonardo DiCaprio. You can too at $250,000 a pop. The launch happened in Spaceport America in New Mexico. Next, Jeff Bezos’ New Shephard is scheduled to take flight Tuesday.


Wishes for Haiti

When vaccines were first starting to roll out worldwide, a Beaconite remembers reading about how Haiti in particular struggled to secure supplies for its residents. Now, the country is facing political instability following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in his home and subsequent issues with establishing a successor. As Haitians are dealing with escalating gang violence, Covid-19 spikes without substantive medical infrastructure to handle them, and preparations for an election, all while hurricane season looms, the Beaconite is hoping the country finds some stability soon. If any Virgin Islands residents have insight into the best way to directly support the neighbouring county, she would be glad to hear more about it.



Take two

Last Thursday, more than 3,000 people tuned in to the government’s Facebook page to watch the territory’s most senior health officials discuss the current Covid-19 outbreak. The broadcast, which lasted for more than an hour, was extremely thorough and informative, giving a clear-eyed view of the situation at hand, how health officials plan to bring the case load down, and what the public needs to do to assist that mission. In general, the Beaconite has been very pleased with how consistently the government has provided updates on the outbreak, and he’s sure that other members of the public feel the same way. As a journalist covering the pandemic at its onset, the Beaconite was often frustrated by how difficult it was to interview government officials, and by how sporadically they would release information. He is heartened to see that government is doing a better job this time around of keeping the public informed, he commends the health officials who are communicating with him and preparing these press releases on top of trying to steer the pandemic response, and he hopes this will continue. Also as part of effort to keep the community informed, he hopes that officials will continue to hold regular press conferences, even if they have to host them virtually.


‘State of emergency’

On social media this week, some users were calling for a “state of emergency” to be declared in the Virgin Islands due to rising Covid-19 cases and deaths. The Beaconite pointed out to them privately that only the governor can declare a “state of emergency.” Furthermore, a “state of emergency” is not merely the act of declaring that an emergency exists. It’s a set of specific powers granted to the governor, such as the right to commandeer buildings, enter onto private poverty, and even dispose of bodies without following normal procedures. This is not to say that declaring a state of emergency could not possibly help. For all she knows, it could. However, before a tough situation leaves people to start calling willy-nilly for any aspect of government to have more power over their lives, the Beaconite believes they should do their research and figure out what they’re actually asking.