Prime Minister & Chair of the EOC Silveria Jacobs National Address on COVID-19 Developments April 27, 2020

April 28, 2020 3:30 pm
People of St. Maarten, I hereby address you as Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), in an update for today, Monday, April 27, 2020, as part of the process to keep the community of St. Maarten informed about the latest developments and the Government?s COVID-19 containment, mitigation and response measures. COVID-19 Cases Based on the latest available data, the counts for April 27, as of 4:00 PM are as follows: · Self-Quarantine: 98 · Self-Isolation: 137 · Number Hospitalized: 7 · Number Tested: 302 o Number Positive: 75 § Male: 53 § Female: 22 o Number Negative: 220 o Number Pending: 6 o Inconclusive: 1 · Deceased: 13 · Recovered: 33 · Active Case: 29 We wish all persons still struggling with the COVID-19 virus much strength, and we continue to work together with our doctors, CPS, and all our other front-liners to ensure that the number will flatten and go down. That is despite the ridiculous behavior, I have seen exhibited within the last 24 hours. We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased. We continue to fly our flags at half-mast in remembrance of every single life lost, and wish each and every person dealing with a COVID-19 death, as well as a regular death, much strength during these trying times. We are not able to comfort each other. Sometimes we are not even able to say goodbye. I do sympathize and empathize with each and every person, as that act of saying goodbye is really a part of the grieving process. I ask you to give yourself time, to sit, reflect, and lean on your faith as you deal with these trying times. The government of St. Maarten is solidarity with you. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that no one else goes through these trying times in the way that you are. Our CPS community outreach testing program continues this week with volunteers going into the district of Cul de Sac. The Cul de Sac district is quite large, therefore, this will take several days. This is to provide awareness and identify symptomatic persons for testing. CPS? staff will be conducting training for their volunteers in health promotion so that they may approach the community from a holistic perspective, and not just for COVID-19. As we know, we have become weak because of the weakness of our health system and because of the fact that so many persons on St. Maarten are suffering from the diseases I mentioned before. In this way, CPS will not only be focusing on COVID-19 but on all other health aspects. The nurses continue to conduct contact tracing to identify all the persons who have been in contact with our positive cases. Moreover, in CPS? efforts to keep the community informed, they have also created educational videos on social distancing, hand washing, the signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, and how to use a mask properly, all in 3 different languages (English, Spanish, Creole). These will be released during the week, once they are ready. The baby clinics will be opening this week to resume immunizations, however, this will be appointment-based only. Due to the current ?state of emergency,? we will be using the Community Help Desk location in Cole Bay for clients that are over the Cole Bay hill. COVID-19 data continues to be entered in the ?WHO Go? Data app. We hope to produce reports or dashboards that could better inform us on how to continuously update the national strategy. Recently, we've put out some pie graphs which have received a good reception in the public and better explains not only the negatives but also the positive cases, whereby a majority of persons are negative. I must say that the recovery is also going very well for those persons who are following CPS?s instructions and doing everything within their power to get well. Now is the time I want to address all the J?ouvert morning revelers. Carnival was canceled way back in March. Many of you express dismay, sadness, etc. Carnival was supposed to start last week and people would post their old pictures remembering this, and remembering that, and looking forward to next year, but, some of us couldn't wait. It is very disconcerting to me that people are so desperate to go out in the streets and revel, that they forget what this lockdown is about. This is about your health. This is about death! When you go out, you are running the risk of infecting yourself, coming home, and infecting your entire family. These are the same communities where we are struggling with Social Services and Community Development to bring much-needed help in the form of food and later on, when we get to that, in the form of vouchers. Now, I have a vision for St. Maarten; that we?d be an upstanding community of disciplined individuals whereby we are doing what is right, at the right time, for the right reasons. Now some of you, like those that went to the tequila party in Suriname, those of you who went in your little J?ouvert John this fore day morning, disrupted your entire neighborhood and wreaked havoc making fun and jaunting and joisting with the police. Do you think you have gotten away with it? Well, think again. The investigation will continue, and all those having taken part in this, and in fact, promoting this, will be dealt with, within the rules of law. There are fines, there is jail, and all of that is waiting for all of you, who felt it necessary to put our public at risk. I will be sitting with ESF 5, which is the police department, and Law and Order, after all of the fines have been dealt out, as well as after who needs to be arrested, has been arrested. We will then look into the steps that will be taken to avoid whatever foolishness went on, spreading to any other community. It is really tough when the actions of one or a small group end up hurting the whole community. We were on our way out of a lockdown. The lockdown was supposed to be for two more weeks. Every week, we were releasing and de-escalating our measures so that more and more could take place. With your behavior, with your lack of discipline, and lack of thinking about the other man, now, we will have to reevaluate whether this lockdown will have to continue even longer. Many of you already anticipated this, but trust me when I say, I will not let the negligent behavior of a few make the rest of us have to pay for a lifetime. As such, I would like to remind you that due to the new addendum of the National Decree which was established to allow for the three days to be moved to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, this is week due to the holidays. I would like to remind you that only on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are you now allowed to go out for essential movement. I am gladly taking note of the many people who said, ?I am staying at home, I am taking deliveries.? That is the best thing to do. The best way to avoid catching COVID-19 is by staying at home and exercising extreme and proper hand hygiene. If you must leave your home to do essential purchases, to get your family much-needed food, pay a bill, to cash a check, or to see a doctor, remember when you reach back home to take care and protect your family from what you may be bringing in. Remove your clothes and do not touch anyone or anything within the home until you've had a shower and put all your clothes to wash. This is the only way to save your family. So, I am hoping that all the J?ouvert revelers, even though I saw some of them properly socially distanced, you definitely could not keep it up, especially if you were drinking. Many of you do not remember the 2015 Minister of Education who reinforced that anyone under the age of 15 was ever supposed to be in a dance party, which is what a J?ouvert is. All of that is going to be looked into as well. All the locations that have been allowed to be open, will be open in zones A and B so that persons can stay in their zones to do their essential business. The operating hours are the same as it was before the state of emergency was enforced. All the telecommunication operators and service providers have been reminded to adhere to all the social distancing and precautionary measures just like every other business that has been allowed to be open. Therefore, there must be a way to sanitize hands before entering the location and maintaining a proper social distance from every other person within the establishment. This is an order for us to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. I pray that all of you making use of these amenities will keep in mind that your own safety is your responsibility. So, take heed to keep that 2-meter distance from each person. Persons are reminded that the banks are also open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and that you should stay within your zones in order to minimize traffic and crowds. If we want this lockdown to be discontinued, I strongly advise persons to always practice proper social distancing measures. This way, we can start to go back to our new normal, rather than the present lockdown situation, which we are facing and which others are facing all around the world. To release our measures too quickly would be putting our people at risk. Therefore, even when the lockdown has been called off, it will then be de-escalated very, very, slowly. I'm asking the people of St. Maarten; those of you that are sending me letters, requesting to open such and such businesses, to be just a little bit more patient with us. Our lockdown is scheduled to go right into May, 2 more weeks to be exact and I'm asking the people of St. Maarten not to make the mistakes of those persons that went out in the streets yesterday. Stay at home. We have our musicians telling you to stay at home. We have our artists asking you to stay at home. We have our first responders and front-liners on the medical field asking you to stay home so that they can do their work. Yet, even if it's one percent, even if it is five percent, it only takes that amount to disrupt the entire community. Because when that person goes to the supermarket and rubs shoulders with you because you don't care about social distancing. You are, therefore, exposing them to what you don't care about. Many, many, people who are now having COVID-19, have very limited symptoms. They are not tapping their chest with coughs, colds, and high fevers. Young healthy persons won't feel it that way. However, when you come in contact with the grandmother, mother, father, little brother, or sister that you love, and that person ends up being so sick that they pass away, can you live with that on your conscience? I do not think so. So, for your own good, for the good of St. Maarten, though we are St. Maarten strong, though we are resilient, though we are blessed, do not fly in the face of God. As of April 24th, the inspection of TEATT has been controlling the supermarkets and have done so 139 times. Everyone who is asking about price violations, we have observed that there have been price violations on powdered milk, rice, corn beef, disinfectant, and even sardines. The businesses have been fined heavily. 28 fines have been issued totaling 7000 Guilders for price violations to date since the COVID-19 locked down. 30 fines totaling 3400 guilders have been issued for businesses who have opened illegally. · 73% of the supermarkets controlled were found to be open. · 68% of supermarkets controlled were found to be implementing social distancing. · 3 official complaints have been received by the department on price gouging. · All 3 were investigated and no evidence of price gouging has been found to date. This update was just so that you may know that the inspectorate within all Ministries is doing their jobs. We are doing that to maintain safety. When you reach a supermarket people of St. Maarten, and you see that people are not properly spaced out, do not go to that supermarket. Report them and they too will be fined. In our continued efforts to inform, educate, and make our citizens aware of the good practices, we have produced a video outlining the regulations that supermarkets and grocery stores must follow. All supermarkets, grocery stores as well as all other businesses that are allowed to be open, should also use and apply these practices in their place of business. These regulations have been set in the best interest of us all to protect and prevent the further spreading of COVID-19. I have said over the weeks, that with more testing we expected to see our numbers rise, but luckily, they are not rising as quickly or as much as we had anticipated. If we continue like this, the curve will continue to flatten and then slowly go down. I hope that this can happen within the next two weeks and hopefully, the wreckless behavior of certain persons won?t carry it back up. I encourage each and every single person on St. Maarten to continue checking up on each other, continue to look via social media, your phone, the internet, and let?s stay in touch because everyone needs to stay in contact with another; we are humans. Someone brought to my attention that some of us are humans just doing, instead of humans being. We are created to be human beings. Let us be the best humans that we can. Look out for yourself and look out for our fellow man. You never know in what way you can be a beacon of hope for someone in need. As we continue to battle COVID-19, rest assured that together with the EOC, the Council of ministers and their respective teams, we are working tirelessly as one team one; Team St. Maarten. One team St. Maarten, working to mitigate, contain, and kill this deadly spread of the COVID-19 virus. Let me remind you St. Maarten is blessed. However, St. Maarten is you, and St. Maarten is me and each of us. In addition, the way we behave will determine how long this lockdown will last. I encourage all of you who know of someone who may have gone to the J?ouvert, tell them to isolate themselves from now for at least the next 14 to 21 days and not to leave their homes, just in case they got infected last night. This is to save you, this is to save them, this is the save me and this is to save St. Maarten. Do your part bring more blessings on St. Maarten. I wish each and every one of you a blessed week. Today's Kings Day, and we wish him a Happy Birthday, King Willem-Alexander. I would like to remind each and every one of us to stay strong, stay blessed, and be faithful and stay home, wash your hands and make sure to keep a 2-meter distance when you must go outside. Have a blessed day St. Maarten. Source: