Los puertorriqueños en EE UU viven en condados con más posibilidad de contagios y muertes por COVID-19

Las poblaciones puertorriqueñas en Estados Unidos viven principalmente en áreas urbanas. En estos condados, los boricuas tienden a enfrentar retos específicos, como ser considerados una minoría racial, alto nivel de desempleo y limitaciones en el manejo el inglés.

Puerto Ricans in the US live in counties with the highest possibility of COVID-19 infection and death

This investigation is possible in part with the support of the Pulitzer Center and the Facebook Journalism Project. Miriam Moreno Santiago was picking up her mother’s luggage in Orlando, Florida, when she was told she wouldn’t be able to see her. They would be taking her directly from the airplane to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing. María Isabel Santiago Colón, her 68-year-old mother, lived in Brooklyn, New York, but health complications and her age drove her to move South with her daughter. However, her journey changed.

More Deaths in Puerto Rico than Announced During the Pandemic

Deaths in Puerto Rico have increased over the past three months despite the few COVID-19 losses reported on the island and the drop in fatalities from accidents and crimes due to quarantine confinement, as compared to 2019, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) found. This, contrary to what was publicly said by Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano and by the director of the Demographic Registry, Wanda Llovet the first week of May when the Department of Health sent the media the data on the deaths of March and April, without making the distinction that they were still significantly incomplete. On May 5, Secretary González Feliciano said in the Jugando Pelota Dura television program that deaths for the month of April totaled 1,750, “when typically in Puerto Rico we  have 2,500 deaths per month.” “How do you explain that? Possibly with the reduction in crime, the decrease in other conditions, but what has been done in Puerto Rico has resulted in a significant impact on the absolute number of deaths,” he continued in reference to the Government of Puerto Rico’s COVID-19 contention measures.

Puerto Rico Has No Strategy or Tests for Elderly Population Facing COVID-19

Although about 97% of older adults live at home or in adult housing projects, more than two months after the ongoing emergency by COVID-19, the Government has not carried out massive tests to detect the virus among this population. The Government response to serve them has been reduced to, as of June 5, carrying out 6,685 of the 50,000 COVID-19 tests promised for the estimated 28,000 elderly people living in nursing homes, which only house 3% of that demographic group. Problems such as going to the supermarket, which represents a focus of contagion, access to medicines, going to medical appointments, maintaining hygiene measures and housekeeping, among others, are aggravated in cases where older adults have no family members or formal caregivers (housekeepers) who are available during the pandemic or with a support network that can assist them. For several professionals who serve this population, the reopening of a large number of commercial sectors and the increased risk of contagion represent a double-edged sword for this group. Don Nicodemus Cuevas lives alone in the Anones rural neighborhood of Naranjito.

PR Department of Health Still has Problems Producing Correct and Updated COVID-19 Data

A little over a month ago, Department of Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano made an ambitious announcement about a collaboration between his agency and the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics to share raw data and information on a daily basis about who is getting tested for COVID-19, but the agency admitted having a hard time delivering the agreed upon information. The Institute of Statistics web page is one week behind on most of the data related to the COVID-19 pandemic and lacks essential information to understand the evolution of infections and deaths from the disease. The Department of Health has not yet provided the Institute of Statistics with updated data on “unique” negative cases, those that are pending and inconclusive, and the total number of tests performed, segregated by type of test (molecular or serological), and according to the date on which they were done. This information is essential to determine if there has been a real drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases, which was the argument that Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced used to begin the second phase of the economic reopening this week. The “unique” case is a new category created by the Department of Health that refers to the data that has been revised, after more than a month of reporting the figures incorrectly, even possibly doubling or tripling them.