Death Toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria Estimated to Be 72x Official Government Number

A new Harvard study released today estimates that the actual death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria is 72 times the official government number.

There have been questions about the accuracy of the official death toll since last year, when officials were forced to acknowledge that, long after the storm, people were continuing "to die at rates far beyond normal."

And of course Donald Trump publicly told Governor Ricardo Rosselló that he could be "very proud" of the low official death toll, which doubled hours after Trump's comment.

Anyone with any sense has suspected that the official death toll was garbage, concealing a number of deaths attributable to the fallout and neglect following the storm. But the actual number is far worse than most people even imagined.

Arelis R. Hernández and Laurie McGinley at the Washington Post report:
At least 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria and its devastation across Puerto Rico last year, according to a new Harvard study released Tuesday, an estimate that far exceeds the official government death toll, which stands at 64.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that health-care disruption for the elderly and the loss of basic utility services for the chronically ill had significant impacts across the U.S. territory, which was thrown into chaos after the September hurricane wiped out the electrical grid and had widespread impacts on infrastructure. Some communities were entirely cut off for weeks amid road closures and communications failures.

Researchers in the United States and Puerto Rico, led by scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, calculated the number of deaths by surveying nearly 3,300 randomly chosen households across the island and comparing the estimated post-hurricane death rate to the mortality rate for the year before. Their surveys indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017, a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared to 2016, or 4,645 "excess deaths."
There is much more at the link.

It is imperative that we have accurate numbers of deaths and understand the causes of those deaths, if we are to prevent deaths in future — and, no less important, to give important acknowledgment and closure to families of the dead, who are retraumatized by gaslighting over the causes of their loved ones' deaths.

With another hurricane season right around the corner, remember Puerto Rico. Demand accountability. Contact members of the government and members of the press and urgently request that the Trump administration be held to account for their deadly failures in Puerto Rico, before they're allowed to spectacularly fail again.

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