Puerto Rico’s governor to Trump: ‘No reason to underscore the tragedy’

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló tore into President Trump on Friday as he continued to deny a scientific study which found that 3,000 people died on the island following a series of hurricanes last year.

“Mr. President —  I’d very much be willing to walk you through the scientific process of the study and how @Gwtweets arrived at the excess mortality number estimate. There is no reason to underscore the tragedy we have suffered in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,” Rosselló tweeted.

“In the meantime, I hope you consider sending a message of support to show you stand with all of the US Citizens in Puerto Rico that lost loved ones. It would certainly be an act of respect and empathy,” he continued.{mosads}

Rosselló’s rebuke came after Trump doubled down on his claim, saying there was “no way” the death toll was that high after casting doubt on the researchers at George Washington University (GWU). 

During a Friday night series of tweets, Trump said he was originally told the death toll following Hurricane Maria last fall was 16.

“Over many months it went to 64 PEOPLE. Then, like magic, ‘3000 PEOPLE KILLED,’ ” Trump wrote.

Rosselló also issued a scathing statement when Trump said his administration’s response to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico was an “unsung success” and “one of the best jobs that’s ever been done” with respect to emergency response.

“The historical relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington is unfair and unAmerican,” Rosselló said. “It is certainly not a successful relationship.”

Rosselló called on Trump to extend federal coverage for the housing restoration and cleanup that is still ongoing on the island.

“This was the worst natural disaster in our modern history,” he said. “Our basic infrastructure was devastated, thousands of our people lost their lives and many others still struggle.”

“Now is not the time to pass judgement; it is time to channel every effort to improve the lives of over 3 million Americans in Puerto Rico,” he added. 

Trump also this week claimed — without evidence — that Democrats inflated the death toll in Puerto Rico to make him look bad.

“This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” he tweeted Thursday.

Rosselló last month updated the government’s official death toll for Hurricane Maria to match the results of the study commissioned from GWU.

“We stand by the science underlying our study which found there were an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria,” GWU’s Milken Institute School of Public Health said in a statement this week. “We are confident that the number — 2,975 — is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date.”

The study reached its death toll figure by comparing estimates of typical non-disaster death rates over six months to the actual mortality rate in Puerto Rico six months after the storm. A number of studies have found that the number of people who died as a result of the hurricane’s impact was much higher than the number originally counted lost during the storm itself.

Tags Death toll Donald Trump Hurricane Maria President Trump Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló

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