Los puertorriqueños llenan el Censo una y otra vez

A mediados de agosto, solo uno de cada diez hogares había completado el cuestionario del Censo 2020 en Barrio Obrero Marina en Santurce según la Oficina del Censo de Estados Unidos. Doña Carmen quiso corroborar este dato preguntando en su sector: “¿Llenaste el Censo?” 

Con el sol de mediodía encima y su mascarilla bien puesta, Carmen Febres Alméstica, la líder comunitaria que preside la organización de residentes G-8 del Caño Martín Peña, comenzó por la calle Argentina. 

Desde el balcón de una casa en esa calle, con su perro ladrando sin descanso detrás del portón de la entrada, Raquel Pérez saludó a doña Carmen y le contestó que sí, que su hija llenó el formulario por ella. Aseguró que varios de sus vecinos también lo llenaron y que recibió dos visitas de encuestadores después de haber contestado. De allí, Febres Alméstica pasó a la calle 5, luego subió por la Avenida Rexach hasta la calle 14, su “querida calle 14”, donde vive hace aproximadamente 65 años. En el trayecto, un señor que barría frente a su barra, clausurada por la pandemia, dijo que lo llenó por internet.

Puerto Rico residents say they answered the 2020 census. The government keeps asking again.

In Barrio Obrero Marina, a working class neighborhood of San Juan, the U.S. Census Bureau said that fewer than one in 10 households had answered the 2020 census by mid-August. Community leader Carmen Febres Alméstica set out to see if the government was right. Wearing a face mask under the midday sun, Febres Alméstica, who chairs a local residents’ organization, began on Argentina Street. A woman named Raquel Pérez, her dog barking non-stop behind her small entrance gate, greeted Febres Alméstica from a balcony. Pérez said her daughter filled out a census form for her.

The Reasons for the Limited Number of Molecular Tests in Puerto Rico

Finding molecular tests that confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis in Puerto Rico is currently quite challenging, and the government restricts who has access to them. One of the reasons is the lack of materials such as reagents, the chemicals necessary to detect the coronavirus. “All reference labs have a need for reagents,” said Ilia Toledo, president of the Toledo Clinical Laboratory, one of the largest in Puerto Rico. In addition, the 200 members of the Association of Clinical Laboratories face problems getting swabs for sampling, its President Juan Rexach confirmed. The standard justification given for the lack of swabs, transport vials, and chemical reagents — all necessary to administer and process these tests — is fierce competition for these supplies throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Rapid tests and false negatives: Puerto Rico and Peru’s strategies to defeat COVID-19

On April 26, Peruvian citizen Miriam Grace presented the first symptoms of COVID-19: sore throat, coupled with cough and fever. Warning bells went off when, on May 2, her sister María del Carmen, her nephew Santiago and niece Antonella also showed their first symptoms that went from nausea and vomiting to loss of taste and smell, according to official reports from the Peru Ministry of Health and the interviews that the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI in Spanish) and Ojo Público conducted with the family. On May 4, Miriam’s father, Juan Francisco, and María del Carmen fell ill with a recurring cough, and on Saturday, May 9, the virus claimed the only victim in that family, who lived in the same home in the Piura region, north of Peru. Edith, who was the family matriarch, died at home due to a COVID-19 infection, her death certificate confirmed. In response to this death, personnel from the Peru Ministry of Health went to Edith’s home to perform a rapid antibody test on the five people who had direct contact with her during the last days of her life.

Pruebas rápidas y falsos negativos: las estrategias de Puerto Rico y Perú frente al COVID-19

El último 26 de abril, la ciudadana peruana Miriam Grace presentó los primeros síntomas de COVID-19: dolor de garganta, acompañada de tos y fiebre. La alerta se encendió cuando, el 2 de mayo, su hermana María del Carmen y sus sobrinos Santiago y Antonella también registraron sus primeros síntomas, que iban desde las náuseas y vómitos hasta la pérdida del gusto y del olfato, según los informes oficiales del Ministerio de Salud del Perú y las entrevistas que el Centro de Periodismo Investigativo y Ojo Público realizaron a la familia. El 4 de mayo, Juan Francisco, padre de Miriam y María del Carmen, cayó enfermo con una tos recurrente, y el sábado, 9 de ese mes, el virus cobró la única víctima mortal de esta familia, que compartía un mismo hogar en la región de Piura, al norte del Perú. Edith, quien era la matriarca de esta familia piurana, falleció en su casa a causa de una infección por COVID-19, según el certificado de defunción. A causa de este deceso, el Ministerio de Salud de Perú acudió al hogar de Edith para realizar una prueba rápida de anticuerpos a las cinco personas que tuvieron contacto directo con ella durante los últimos días de su vida.

Department of Health Bought Overpriced Medical Equipment from Contact Referred by National Guard

The Department of Health was not the only government agency that purchased COVID-19 screening tests, masks, and other supplies for the pandemic. The Puerto Rico National Guard also made its purchases, and at least one of its transactions reflects what has been a pattern within the government during the emergency: failure to comply with the agreed terms; intermediaries with no experience in medical products; and companies that disappear without a trace. Between April and June 30, the National Guard disbursed $4.3 million for emergency-related procurements. The information about the National Guard’s suppliers was shared with the Department of Health, José Reyes, Adjutant General of the National Guard, told the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish). Reyes said that at a meeting in the house of state La Fortaleza, Mabel Cabeza — the Department of Health’s former chief of staff and liaison between the medical Task Force designated for the pandemic and the executive branch — asked who was providing procurement quotes to the National Guard for emergency-related equipment.