Jul 3, 2018

Dozens died from treatable illness in Puerto Rico after Maria

Photo: AFP Contributor/Getty Images

At least 26 people died of the bacterial disease leptospirosis in Puerto Rico during the six months after Hurricane Maria, according to a new report from CNN and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo.

Why it matters: Leptospirosis, an illness often spread in floodwaters via animal urine, is rarely a fatal disease and is easily treatable with antibiotics — but the Puerto Rican government refused to declare an outbreak, which could have furthered the illness' effects by failing to prompt greater surveillance and prevention efforts.

Twenty-six deaths attributed to leptospirosis — that's extraordinary. There's no other way of putting it. ... The numbers are huge."
— UCSD medical professor Dr. Joseph Vinetz told CNN

The big picture: As of June 22, Puerto Rico's Health Department said only four people had died of the disease because of Maria. They added two to that count after CNN asked about the 26 deaths, which had been discovered via a Puerto Rican mortality database.

  • The government's official death toll from the storm sits at 64 and doesn't include the two cases added by Puerto Rico's Health Department, pending a wider government review of the death toll. Independent estimates believe that number is widely underreported — and could number in the thousands.

The bottom line: Nine months later, there are still many unanswered questions about the storm and its overall impacts on Puerto Rico, leaving families and residents at a loss regarding officially uncounted deaths.

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Clyburn: Sanders' "socialist" label will be "extra burden" in House races

Clyburn with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' identification as a democratic socialist may be an "extra burden" in down-ballot House races if he were to win the Democratic nomination.

Why it matters: Clyburn's comments echo fears from many establishment Democrats, who worry the House majority they won in 2018 by taking moderate seats carried by President Trump could be at risk with Sanders at the top of the ticket.

O'Brien rejects intelligence report of Russia effort to re-elect Trump

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. Photo: Chris Usher/CBS via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected on ABC's "This Week" an assessment from a congressional briefing led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected.

Why it matters: The report put the Trump administration under fresh scrutiny in regard to steps it has been taking to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. encountered in 2016.

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Italy becomes site of largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures as it confirmed a spike from three to 132 cases in matter of days, making it the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

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