Dec 18, 2017

Puerto Rico's governor wants recount of hurricane death toll

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.

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Trump considers quarantine for states near epicenter of U.S. coronavirus outbreak

President Trump speaks to the press on March 28 in Washington, DC. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — areas congruent with the New York metro area, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.

Reality check: These states have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing to combat COVID-19. The governors of New York and New Jersey issued statewide stay-at-home orders last week, and non-essential businesses in Connecticut were ordered to close as of this Monday.

New York is latest state to delay primary due to coronavirus

Photo: Barbara Davidson/Getty Images

New York — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. — has moved its presidential primary to June 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday.

Why it matters: 23 other states and the District of Columbia haven't held primaries yet. The White House is recommending, for now, that Americans practice social distancing and gather in groups of no more than 10 people — while many states have issued stay-at-home orders.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 622,450 — Total deaths: 28,794 — Total recoveries: 135,779.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 105,573 — Total deaths: 1,711 — Total recoveries: 895.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is reportedly considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to provide businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: A group of Midwestern swing voters that supported President Trump's handling of the coronavirus less than two weeks ago is balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter. Alaska is latest state to issue stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day. In Spain, over 1,300 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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