Sep 13, 2018

Reality check: Trump is wrong on Hurricane Maria death toll

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

President Trump claimed on Thursday, without evidence, that the death toll of Hurricane Maria was "done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible," and disputed the official count of almost 3,000 deaths.

Reality check: The number provided by the George Washington University study, which was commissioned by the Puerto Rican government, was conservative, the report's authors noted in the study.

The details: A key component of the report was an excess mortality study, which involved analyzing past mortality patterns from 2010 to 2017 in order to predict the expected number of deaths had Hurricane Maria not occurred, and comparing this to actual deaths observed.

The researchers also needed to project forward mortality with and without the hurricane, which required taking account for the massive migration off the island in the storm's wake. For observed deaths, the study relied on records for all deaths between September 2017 and February 2018 from the Puerto Rico Department of Public Health.

  • The study estimated that total excess deaths after the hurricane, when accounting for off-island migration, amounted to 2,975 for the period from September 2017 through February 2018.
  • The count included those that died due to circumstances after the hurricane, such as the scarce health services and completely immobile power grid.
  • The study found that medical professionals had not been trained in how to fill out death certificates in a post-disaster situation, and hesitated to attribute fatalities to the storm either directly or indirectly. This may have led to the initial low death toll that the Puerto Rican government reported.

Further bolstering its findings is the fact that the George Washington University study was not the only one to find a far higher death toll than what was initially reported.

Go deeper: Hurricane Maria's official death count raised to 2,975 after study

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Largest 24-hour spike in fatalities

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York's death toll from the novel coronavirus surged to its highest one-day total on Tuesday, as the U.S. saw its largest 24-hour spike in fatalities, per Johns Hopkins data. Recorded deaths across the U.S. surpassed 12,900 early Wednesday.

Why it matters: State officials have stressed that lockdowns must continue even if cities begin to see slight improvements from social distancing. Several hot spots, including New York, New Orleans, and Detroit, are expected to peak in the coming days.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 26 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 1,430,453 — Total deaths: 82,133 — Total recoveries: 301,385Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 399,081 — Total deaths: 12,907 — Total recoveries: 22,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship — Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Trump said he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning that the crisis could kill more than half a million Americans.
  4. States latest: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is confident that more than 200 million masks will be delivered to the state "at a monthly basis starting in the next few weeks."
  5. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  6. World updates: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  7. 2020 latest: Polls for Wisconsin's primary elections closed at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, but results won't be released until April 13. Thousands of residents cast ballots in person.
  8. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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African Americans are disproportionately dying from coronavirus

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams at a Coronavirus Task Force Press news briefing. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has highlighted the disproportionate impact the novel coronavirus is having on African American communities, telling CBS Tuesday "many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID."

Driving the news: Several states and cities have reported that African Americans are dying from the virus at higher rates than any other racial demographic. Not all agencies have released a breakdown of data, but the virus is spiking in cities with large African American populations, including New York, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and New Orleans.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Health