Puerto Rico Faces a New Crisis Lacking Public Infrastructure Investment

The Puerto Rico government named the Ramón Ruiz Arnau University Hospital (HURRA in Spanish) in Bayamón as the lead hospital on the island for critically ill patients affected by the new coronavirus, but just a few weeks ago, 23 of its isolation rooms awaited for funds to fix their negative pressure system. The latter helps control air pressure and flow in these rooms, minimizing the risk of contagion. As of Thursday afternoon, the government continued to make last-minute improvements and work to HURRA, including its isolation rooms, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI in Spanish) found. Two sources said the institution is not fully prepared to be the main hospital in the emergency, despite it already treats suspected COVID-19 cases. HURRA also awaited for repairs to the air conditioning system, the installation of a new power generator, water heaters and an electrical circuit for X-ray, CT scan and MRI machines, electrical improvements to the clinical laboratory, rooms renovation and the rehabilitation of an entire hospital floor, among other projects.

Millions of Health Department Funds Channeled to Contractors Linked to ex Governor Campaign Strategists

The wave of corruption that characterized the Ricardo Rosselló-Nevares administration had among its enablers the now outgoing Secretary of Health, Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado, an investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) reveals. Amid the emergency and deaths related to Hurricane María, a decisive meeting took place at the Government of Puerto Rico’s Emergency Operations Center (COE, in Spanish). Elías Sánchez, lobbyist and former governor Rosselló’s ex-campaign director was present. The meeting, held Oct. 2, 2017, two weeks after the storm, was the first sweeping encounter among Government of Puerto Rico cabinet secretaries and federal government response officials.

Isolated and Misinformed: My Aftermath Regarding Coronavirus

The wind gusts coming from the northwest hits the trees outside. I hear my dog’s chain drag across the hallway, outside my door

The fan spins as I look at the light brown ceiling. I have been in this room for more than three days, locked up preventively for fear of infecting others. It’s a self-imposed quarantine in which I’m caught between misinformation and government contradictions. The clock ticks slowly, really slow.

I Tested Negative for Coronavirus

It’s past 8 on Friday night and my immediate future is at the mercy of three Q-tips and two vials of blood heading to a laboratory. The Q-tips carry a sample that was taken from my nose and another from my throat to test if I have influenza or coronavirus. Four days ago, when I received an email from the organizers of the conference where I spent four days in New Orleans, I hand sanitized two friends with whom I was having dinner. I was told that one of the conference attendees had tested positive for the coronavirus. For the first time I don’t feel the freezing cold of hospitals.

Health Department adrift in the midst of the pandemic

Ten days after the Government of Puerto Rico began to take the coronavirus seriously, Puerto Ricans are in the midst of the deadly pandemic without a Health Department to count on. With no public health expert in charge of the decisions on which the lives of 3.2 million people who live on this island depend. The Health Department has no data, no projections that allow for coherent   planning and response, no communications manager with expertise or experience in public health education, and no large-scale educational campaign despite the many millions spent on advertising superfluous matters. Former Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado, who had previously mishandled the emergencies created by Hurricane María in 2017 and the earthquakes between December 2019 and January 2020, “resigned” on Friday, Mar. 13, the day the first positive COVID-19 case in Puerto Rico was confirmed.

The Program to Deal with Housing Needs in Puerto Rico after Hurricane María Lingers in a Limbo

The Governor assures that the R3 program’s priority is to rebuild and repair homes, but the initiative poses a threat of displacement by hindering construction in flood-prone zones, and by not offering as an option reducing risks in the communities, because the federal funding for it hasn’t arrived. Two and a half years after the disaster, the main housing recovery program has not relocated anyone. María Pérez-Ramos never imagined that the land ceded by the former mayor of Canovanas, José “Chemo” Soto, in the San Isidro community 19 years ago, was flood-prone. Had she known, she would not have accepted it, she said. Now, all she wants is to move to a safe place where she doesn’t have to be afraid when hurricane season arrives in the summer.

For Millionaire Fraud, SEC Sues an Investor that Managed Government Funds in Puerto Rico

Michael Williams, a US businessman who lives in Puerto Rico and manages investment funds for two government agencies, could face trial by jury after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit accusing him of a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme. The SEC is one of the regulators of the financial market in the United States. In September, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) revealed the scheme that Williams allegedly put together and anticipated that he was under investigation by the SEC and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Documents reviewed by the CPI show that Williams may have used money from his clients’ investments, such as the State Insurance Fund Corporation (CFSE, in Spanish) and the Administration for Automobile Accident Compensation (ACAA, in Spanish) for personal gain and his companies’ operational expenses. “Since 2013, Kinetic Investment Group, LLC (“Kinetic Group”) and Michael Scott Williams (collectively, “Defendants”) have raised at least $39 million from at least 30 investors in an unregistered fraudulent securities offering.