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.

Caribbean Public Education Systems Adrift Due to the Coronavirus

Within days from each other, public education systems in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Cuba suspended classes in schools in March this year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. With no time, tools or defined public policies to lay down strategies that would somehow ensure and measure student participation and progress, distance learning had predictable results. The structural deficiencies of the education systems, the social inequality experienced by students and teachers, the digital gap, and the absence of processes for the participation of school communities in the design of educational plans, are unsolved dilemmas for back to school, amid the latent threat of COVID-19. “We hardly learned anything,” said a 13-year-old Puerto Rican student about the abrupt change in his learning process since classes were suspended. Another young boy, 14, recalled how difficult it was to adopt a study routine with his younger sister and mother: “I’m a Special Education student and we’re used to a certain pace and support.”

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.

Sin rumbo los sistemas de educación pública en el Caribe ante el coronavirus

Las deficiencias estructurales de los sistemas de enseñanza, la desigualdad social entre estudiantes y maestros, la brecha digital y la ausencia de procesos que integraran a las comunidades escolares en el diseño de los planes educativos, son dilemas no resueltos de cara al regreso a clases, sin que la amenaza de contagio por COVID-19 se haya disipado.

Puerto Rico’s Chronically Ill Health System Blocks Effective COVID-19 Response

While Joshua James Sánchez Antillón was hospitalized, seriously ill due to COVID-19, his father, Luis Ángel “Wichy” Sánchez Soler, got a bill for $65,000. It did not even itemize the services the hospital was providing. The invoice issued by HIMA San Pablo Caguas hospital stated that, if signed, he would have 15 days to pay the amount. Wichy Sánchez Soler, who at that time was mourning his father’s death, also due to COVID-19, decided not to sign because he didn’t know what they were charging him for, or how he was going to be able to pay. At that point, the hospital did not offer advice or payment options.