House of Assembly Speaker Julian Willock mentioned earlier this year that one of the HOA’s goals is to go paperless. As the world is working out innovative ways to operate remotely, a Beaconite sees an opportunity for leaders here to invest in making the switch. A government-run online portal could be a useful central hub for HOA order papers, supplemental reports, proposed bills and more. Just this week, the premier urged members of the public to read a request sent on May 6 to the United Kingdom asking for leniency with the 2012 Protocols for Effective Financial Management, and a digital platform would make it easier for the community to engage with such legislative affairs. Leaders around the globe frequently tout the buzzword “transparency” to curry favour with their electorate, but the Virgin Islands government has the chance to walk the walk on this issue. Armed with a better understanding of how government functions, residents could provide valuable feedback to elected officials, ultimately facilitating a more united community.
Seniors and Covid
A Beaconite would like to turn attention to a sobering statistic from the United States. According to The New York Times, one-third of all Covid-19 deaths, and up to 80 percent in some states, including the Beaconite’s home state of Minnesota, have occurred among residents of long-term-care facilities. These are clearly not people who are spending a lot of time going out to beaches and restaurants. In fact, their facilities were among the first to be locked down when the virus emerged. And yet they are still dying. In some cases, this is thought to be because of asymptomatic Covid-carrying staff, and even more distressingly, because Covid-positive patients were moved into nursing homes to save hospital space. However, there are solutions to both of these problems, as other jurisdictions have found. As the territory congratulates itself on having no known active cases and looks to partially reopening its borders, the Beaconite urges all possible attention to be paid to protecting such facilities and the people who remain in the most danger from this virus.
A Beaconite approaching his first anniversary of living in the Virgin Islands has navigated the territory almost exclusively by hitchhiking and taking public transportation, but he is now close to finalising a purchase of a moped. Even though there are currently no known active cases of Covid-19 in the VI, the Beaconite feels that it would be irresponsible to continue to regularly hitchhike when he can afford not to do so, as this practice would greatly increase the odds of him contracting or spreading the virus. As he covers the courts and crime beat, he has written several stories about motorcyclists and scooter-riders who have been gravely injured or lost their lives, and is thus acutely aware of the danger of riding these vehicles. The Beaconite therefore intends to always wear a helmet, to obey traffic laws and to ride sensibly. Though he has many fond memories of hitchhiking all over the territory and thinks that this practice is one of the many quirks that make the VI so special, he is looking forward to not having to allocate an extra hour when planning out his reporting trips, and being able to hop between different beaches on a whim.
Like a dream
Some semblance of regular life has returned for a Beaconite. From relaxing on the beach with friends to having sleepovers with co-workers, this week seemed indicative of a turning point in the Covid-19 pandemic in the territory. Movement and busyness are back in Road Town, and with the gradual re-opening of borders, “normalcy” may not be so far out on the horizon. This reporter wonders if, by next year or so, residents will look back on this time as a distant memory akin to a dream. It is easy to fade away catastrophic and memorable events as daily life continues, which is why people hold memorials and days of remembrance. The pandemic will not stay fresh in people’s minds for too long once it has passed. Hoping to move forward with solid wisdom and understanding, the reporter plans to take some time to reflect on the collective shift before throwing herself back into a “normal routine.”