Puerto Rico gov orders recount of hurricane deaths

Puerto Rico gov orders recount of hurricane deaths
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Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has ordered a review and recount of the death toll of Hurricane Maria, according to The New York Times.

The official death toll from the September hurricane is 64 people, but a New York Times analysis earlier this month found that the count was likely to be well over 1,000.

“Every life is more than a number, and every death must have a name and vital information attached to it, as well as an accurate accounting of the facts related to their passing,” Rosselló said.

The Puerto Rican government had previously reported that more than 900 deaths since the hurricane — an unusually high amount for the region — were due to “natural causes” and unrelated to the disaster. Now, officials say that the months-long blackout on the island could have hindered medical treatment for many, contributing to a higher death count.

“We always expected that the number of hurricane-related deaths would increase as we received more factual information — not hearsay — and this review will ensure we are correctly counting everybody,” Rosselló said.

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According to a New York Times analysis of Puerto Rican government data, the past few months saw a 50 percent increase in deaths from sepsis, an infection worsened by poor living conditions.

It is likely that many deaths were recorded improperly and not tied to damage from Hurricane Maria in official counts.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE faced backlash in October after he compared the death counts of hurricanes Maria and Katrina during a visit to Puerto Rico, telling Rosselló that he should be “very proud” that only 16 people had died in Puerto Rico, compared to “literally thousands” when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

The Trump administration’s response to the damage cause by Maria has been harshly criticized as inadequate. Three months after the hurricane, a large portion of the island is still without full electrical capacity, and many are without power at all.