COVID-19 Cases Are Spiking In Puerto Rico. Curfew Orders Were Loosened Anyway

Image via Pablo Ortiz.

By Mivette Vega

May 4, 2020

More traffic and outdoor activities were reported during the first day of the modified lockdown, in the week where the Health Department expects the highest contagion number.

Workers from different economic sectors occupied the main roads of the island on Monday, returning to their workplaces after seven weeks of lockdown.

A new, more flexible executive order went into effect Monday, allowing lawyers, engineers, accountants, doctors, and financial service providers to open their doors. Hardware stores, auto inspection and maintenance centers, laundromats, moving services, and elevator and air-conditioning repair companies will also reopen. Business hours will be Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. by appointment.

RELATED: What You Need To Know About Puerto Rico And Coronavirus This Week

Elvis Zeno, lieutenant of the Police Transit Division, confirmed to El Nuevo Día that the metropolitan area has seen the highest increase in traffic.

“There was an increase [in traffic], but not in the usual way; road PR-22 wasn’t jammed,” Zeno told the newspaper. “I’ve received reports of considerable traffic in Fajardo. There’s a lot of traffic in Ponce.” Zeno also reported increases in Carolina, the Arecibo highway, Aguadilla and Mayagüez, along with an uptick in traffic volume in San Juan and Caguas.

According to El Nuevo Día, people are exercising while wearing masks in designated recreational areas. The latest government mandate allows walking, running, and cycling from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Pablo Ortiz, a resident of San Juan’s Miramar neighborhood, says he is “really happy” to be able to go out and exercise. He was walking by the Condado Lagoon and saw some people swimming, and commented on how the police intervened with two men who were paddleboarding. “Using a bullhorn, the officers told them paddleboarding is not allowed because all beaches are closed,” Pablo said.

The Puerto Rico lockdown was one of the first to go into effect in the U.S. The loosening of the lockdown, however, is happening during a week when a spike in cases of COVID-19 on the island is expected, according to Lorenzo González, Puerto Rico’s secretary of health.

The Department of Health reported on Monday 1,843 positive cases of COVID-19. The current death toll in Puerto Rico is 97 fatalities, with none reported in the last 24 hours.

The lack of testing continues to be the main concern among citizens. Southern Puerto Rico newspaper Voces del Sur reported four mayors of the region warned against the loosening of the lockdown, saying the timing does not agree with the expected spike in cases and could severely compromise hospital capacity if the contagion rises. 

This new reality is also happening two days after a 5.4 magnitude earthquake rocked the south of Puerto Rico. Damages were reported in Ponce.



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