Lawmakers call on Trump administration to address Puerto Rico's vulnerability to COVID-19

Lawmakers call on Trump administration to address Puerto Rico's vulnerability to COVID-19
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Democratic lawmakers are calling on Vice President Pence, who leads the administration’s coronavirus task force, to provide information on how the administration plans to address unique obstacles Puerto Rico faces throughout the pandemic. 

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's tax bombshell | More election drama in Pennsylvania | Trump makes up ground in new polls New Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Democrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' MORE (D-Mass.) and Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroDisinformation, QAnon efforts targeting Latino voters ramp up ahead of presidential election Pompeo accused of stumping for Trump ahead of election Florida Democrat asks FBI to investigate anti-Semitic, racist disinformation MORE (D-Texas) said in a letter to Pence that the administration was slow to provide the U.S. territory adequate aid after hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

"As the COVID-19 pandemic hits Puerto Rico, these economic and public health risks will grow and risk exacerbating the crisis,” the lawmakers said, adding, "the Trump administration's actions to delay and impede the island's economic and health care disaster recovery will result in further grave harm to the island's residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic."

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Puerto Rico is due to receive more than $3 billion appropriated by Congress as coronavirus relief, which is much more than other U.S. territories, but significantly less than states of similar populations. The lawmakers are asking for details on how the administration plans to allocate those funds.

The Democrats note that the island of over 3.2 million U.S. citizens has seen multiple natural disasters over the past two years that have severely damaged its infrastructure. According the Bureau of Health Workforce, more than 1.7 million Puerto Ricans live in officially designated Health Professional Shortage Areas.

“We are deeply concerned about Puerto Rico’s health care workforce and its readiness to respond to future growth of the outbreak on the island,” the lawmakers wrote.