UPDATED: This Map Shows Where and Who Coronavirus Has Hit the Hardest This Week in PR


Graphic via Desirée Tapia for The Americano

By Mivette Vega

August 21, 2020

The rise in COVID-19 cases continues in Puerto Rico; measures will be in place this Saturday to balance public health with the economy.

This Saturday, Gov. Wanda Vázquez is implementing new safety measures to deal with the spike in COVID-19 cases in Puerto Rico since mid-June.

This week, Puerto Rico’s Health Department has reported some of its highest daily numbers of confirmed cases.

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On Tuesday, for instance, a record number of 633 confirmed cases was reported.

As of Friday, the health department reported 13,014 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 15,832 possible cases. The island’s death toll is 374. Of those deaths, 240 are confirmed coronavirus deaths and 134 are from symptoms similar to a COVID infection. There are 392 people hospitalized.

Given the increase in cases, a stricter lockdown was expected. The strictest measure announced is a 24-hour lockdown on Sundays, when only pharmacies, grocery stores, and hospitals will be open.

From Monday through Saturday, beaches will remain open only for people who are exercising, including runners and surfers. Businesses, malls, and banks will be allowed to operate at only 25% capacity. The same limit will apply to restaurants, where indoor and outdoor dining will be permitted.

“We continue to worry about restaurants—the measures implemented are not in keeping with our recommendations. We’ll need to see what happens during this period once the new measures are up and going,” Dr. William Méndez, member of the local Medical Task Force told El Nuevo Día.

The Medical Task Force recommended stricter measures, but the local Economic Task Force advocated avoiding closures that would affect the economy, especially where small and medium-sized businesses are concerned.

“I have heard that the Medical Task Force is not satisfied with the lack of a total lockdown, moreso as they have estimated 1,500 to 1,600 weekly possible cases during the next three weeks. The line of thought is that the economy is more important than the health of the people,” Dr. Antonia Coello de Novello, 14th surgeon general of the United States, told The Americano

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The Medical Task Force projections are based on the number of people who participated in the botched primary process. Voting in person took place on Aug. 9 and Aug. 16.

After voting, several politicians have tested positive for the coronavirus. Members of the New Progressive Party (PNP by its Spanish initials) were most affected. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez and José “Pichy” Torres Zamora, president and vice-president of the House of Representatives, respectively, as well as Edwin Mundo, electoral coordinator for gubernatorial candidate Pedro Pierluisi, all tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Coello said young people should be informed on matters of safety measures more effectively. Lorenzo González, the Department of Health secretary, said people under 50 get infected with mild symptoms and are responsible for the contagion of the elderly.

“We are now paying the price for their irresponsibility—60% of infections involve people under 50, mainly between the ages of 29 and 39. We need to make them a part of education campaigns,” Dr. Coello said.

Churches also raise concerns because they promote gatherings. Some religious leaders even threaten to go to court, if the government decides to ban the services. Vázquez decided to allow them to open seven days a week at 25% capacity.

Dr. Coello emphasized “the three Cs” as an educational concept that promotes avoiding closed spaces, crowds, and close-contact.




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