PR Department of Health Still has Problems Producing Correct and Updated COVID-19 Data

A little over a month ago, Department of Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano made an ambitious announcement about a collaboration between his agency and the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics to share raw data and information on a daily basis about who is getting tested for COVID-19, but the agency admitted having a hard time delivering the agreed upon information. The Institute of Statistics web page is one week behind on most of the data related to the COVID-19 pandemic and lacks essential information to understand the evolution of infections and deaths from the disease. The Department of Health has not yet provided the Institute of Statistics with updated data on “unique” negative cases, those that are pending and inconclusive, and the total number of tests performed, segregated by type of test (molecular or serological), and according to the date on which they were done. This information is essential to determine if there has been a real drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases, which was the argument that Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced used to begin the second phase of the economic reopening this week. The “unique” case is a new category created by the Department of Health that refers to the data that has been revised, after more than a month of reporting the figures incorrectly, even possibly doubling or tripling them.

[CHEQUEO DE DATOS] Lorenzo González: “Una persona joven, sin condiciones crónicas, pues si se infecta y no se enferma, va a ganar inmunidad”.

El secretario del Departamento de Salud, doctor Lorenzo González, afirmó este viernes en entrevista con Metro que “una persona joven, sin condiciones crónicas, si se infecta y no se enferma, va a ganar inmunidad”. El titular también aseguró que “los adultos mayores serán los últimos en salir de la cuarentena porque si se infectan y se enferman, van a morir; pero los niños, adolescentes y jóvenes no están muriendo, a menos que tengan condiciones crónicas”. Mónica Feliú Mójer, doctora en neurobiología y experta en comunicación científica, dijo al Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI) que “tener anticuerpos no equivale a la inmunidad”. 

“No sabemos si todas las personas que se infectan desarrollan anticuerpos. Puede que otras [personas] no [desarrollen] tantos anticuerpos. Algunos anticuerpos son más efectivos que otros.

Falsehood Behind the State Epidemiologist in Charge of the Response to the Coronavirus

State Epidemiologist Carmen Deseda, responsible to advise and inform citizens on how to fight the coronavirus pandemic in Puerto Rico, has no formal academic training as an epidemiologist, but instead took a course that accredits her as an Epidemiology Officer, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) found. According to her curriculum vitae, Deseda has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico and an MD in Medicine from the Universidad Central del Caribe in Puerto Rico. In 1980, she participated in a field epidemiology training at the Epidemiology Intelligence Service Unit at the Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She has no master’s degree or PhD in epidemiology. Her field training in epidemiology was offered by the CDC, which is not an academic institution, and is offered to coach doctors who will practice as “State Epidemiologists.”

Deseda was appointed State Epidemiologist in 1994 by ex-Governor Pedro Rosselló-González.

Public Schools in Puerto Rico with No Resources to Comply with Vocational Evaluations for students with Special Needs

Reinalice Carrero-Guerra, a 23-year-old with Down Syndrome, is one of the thousands of special education students who never received a vocational and career evaluation from the Department of Education, despite there being a law in place for 13 years now that requires conducting such assessment. She neither received help from the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration (ARV in Spanish), an agency ascribed to the Department of Labor and Human Resources (DTRH in Spanish) that is supposed to guide citizens with functional diversity into the workforce. Her mother Alice Guerra said she unsuccessfully requested services after her daughter graduated from high school at 18.  

“They interviewed her many times. The person assigned to the case was never there, and I was redirected to anyone else who was available.