Hospitals in Puerto Rico don’t run COVID-19 tests on the deceased

One of the most important factors to confirm the real status of the COVID-19 case fatality rate in Puerto Rico is to conduct molecular tests on people who die and who had any symptoms of the disease. However, hospitals — which is where most people on the island die — have not been testing all suspected patients and none of the deceased, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Health Lorenzo González Feliciano admitted on Tuesday to questions from the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish). More than 60% of deaths in Puerto Rico occur in hospitals, according to Demographic Registry data. The official answered the question during a press conference on Tuesday about the status of COVID-19 on the island, when he also reported that disease-related deaths were already at 64 and that, of those, 19 were detected through the annotations that doctors make on death certificates they send to the Demographic Registry of Puerto Rico. González said some of those cases lack confirmatory tests, but did not specify how many of them, and answered categorically that the hospitals have not been taking the samples.

Thousands could die from COVID-19 in Puerto Rico

Government and public health experts at the highest levels have known this for days, but nobody wants to say it openly: thousands could die from COVID-19 in Puerto Rico. So far, the projections that the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) has learned from experts are overwhelming. The most conservative suggests that some 16,000 deaths could be registered during the pandemic on the island; the worst case scenario approaches 58,000 victims.

The CPI asked health demographer Raúl Figueroa to calculate the number of possible deaths, based on the contagion estimates that the Government of Puerto Rico has disclosed, as well as the fatality rates published by countries that lead the way in the pandemic, and the local case-fatality rate that the few tests done to date show. The first test was done on March 8. According to Figueroa’s calculations, if Puerto Rico approaches the global average mortality rate — which to date is 4.4% — 27,000 people would die in about 12 to 18 months.

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.