COVID-19: The Excess of Hundreds of Deaths in Puerto Rico Has Not Been Investigated by the Government
Atypical death trends during the pandemic have gone unnoticed, but expert analysis begins to identify the keys as to why they occurred and what lessons they hold for the immediate future. By Omaya Sosa Pascual and Jeniffer Wiscovitch | Center for Investigative Journalism
Six months after the government reported the arrival of COVID-19 in Puerto Rico, more than 600 people have officially died from the disease but, in addition, hundreds have died from other causes that have gone unnoticed and that could be directly or indirectly linked to the pandemic. These excess deaths have been masked in the total mortality figure due to the sharp drop that has been registered in deaths due to crimes, accidents, and trauma on the island. The Department of Health (DS, in Spanish) has been using so far the monthly death toll number on the island to monitor the status of COVID-19, without detailing the significant changes in deaths from specific causes. These deaths, identified as deaths in excess of those that regularly occur in Puerto Rico, happened mainly during the period of the initial strict lockdown that the government of Puerto Rico implemented between March and April, and were focused on chronic conditions that have been associated as high risk for the virus, according to an investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) that included mortality data and interviews with more than a dozen experts.