Recurrent Trauma: The effects of Climate Change on Mental Health in Puerto Rico

Rafael Negrón Santos did not lose his home or his job after Hurricane María, but the storm was the end of his relationship with his partner. The struggle to survive in the days and weeks that followed, coupled with the despair caused by life without electricity, the frustration at the number of deaths that the government refused to acknowledge, and the time he devoted to taking care of his mother’s needs, weakened communication with his partner. One day he came home, and she was gone. The number of stress factors he faced took a toll on his mental health. In the months that followed, he lost his appetite, lost nearly 40 pounds, and had panic attacks.

Los desastres relacionados al clima están en aumento. Y esta es una mala noticia para la salud mental. Cuéntanos tu historia.

Cada año, los desastres climáticos destruyen comunidades en todo Estados Unidos y sus territorios, dejando escenas traumáticas y cada vez más familiares. Tormentas de fuego mortales arrasan el oeste. Inundaciones históricas desbordan la zona de la Franja Agraria. Los huracanes catastróficos con lluvias récord azotan el sur y la costa este. Desde 2010, Estados Unidos ha tenido 37 desastres de gran escala, cada uno con al menos mil millones de dólares en daños.

Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Puerto Rico?

“But you don’t look that sick. Did you walk here, or did someone drive you?”

“Your cough isn’t a dry cough, like the virus. It’s a wet cough, like a cold.”

On Mar. 19, Carlos Del Valle, a 65 year-old man claimed that a doctor at the Río Piedras Medical Center refused to run the COVID-19 test on him, despite having a referral from his doctor, who told him he could be at risk because he was showing symptoms and had been exposed to people infected with the virus. “I’m an old person, I have diabetes and I feel weak,” the man told the doctor, who did not think those circumstances were enough to authorize the test administered by the Health Department.

No man’s land: Buying tests and supplies for the COVID-19 emergency in Puerto Rico

The Government of Puerto Rico’s procurement process for materials and equipment to deal with the coronavirus emergency has been plagued with mistakes, delays, inefficiency, questionable purchases and a lack of details. The Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) interviewed more than three sources who identified Adil Rosa Rivera as responsible for buying supplies and equipment for the emergency, such as ventilators, tests and protective equipment. Up until a few days ago, Rosa Rivera coordinated the procurement process, first through the Health Department and then through the Bureau for Emergency and Disaster Management’s (NMEAD, in Spanish) Emergency Operations Center (COE). From the COE, together with Medical Task Force members Dr. Juan Salgado and Dr. Segundo Rodríguez, they have coordinated what to buy and from whom, three sources confirmed. Rosa Rivera previously worked as the Family Department’s Administration Director for the Caguas region, and until last week was in charge of the Health Department’s Undersecretary of Administration office.