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Downed power lines and debris are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Photo: Gerald Herbert / AP

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló ordered a recount Monday of every death on the island since Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20, as evidence continues to show that the official death toll grossly undercuts the true number, reports the New York Times.

By the numbers: The official death count is at 64. The Times' independent analysis, based on daily mortality data from Puerto Rico's vital statistics bureau, estimates that it's closer to 1,052.

Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism also estimated that 1,065 more people than usual had died in September and October of 2017 than in the same period in 2016 and 2015.

Methods for tolling the number of storm-related deaths vary by state and locality. The Times points out that some places only count direct deaths, such as people who drown in storm floodwaters. But Puerto Rico's method is less rigid, and deaths indirectly caused by a storm, such as suicides or death by infection, are included in the tally.

What they're saying: "This is about more than numbers, these are lives: real people, leaving behind loved ones and families," Rosselló said in a statement. Rosselló had previously repeatedly defended Puerto Rico's counting method. The Times suggests the recount is "an apparent about-face for his administration," as they couldn't ignore the mounting evidence that the toll does not accurately depict reality.

What's next: The recount will require interviewing doctors and family members of the dead to learn whether their cause of death could have been linked to the fallout from the storm. For example, a heart attack may have been brought on by the stress of the hurricane, or roads leading to the hospital may have been blocked by debris.

Go deeper: One-third of Puerto Rico still doesn't have power.

Go deeper

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday, via Axios night owl Hans Nichols:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.

Trump, your 2024 GOP nominee

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Former President Trump is telling most anyone who'll listen he will run again in 2024 — and poll after poll shows the vast majority of Republicans would gladly cheer him on and vote for him. 

Why it matters: Trump is the heart, soul and undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will easily win the nomination if he wants it, the polls make unmistakably clear.

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