Harvard study estimates over 4K died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria

BY SONNET SWIRE
Posted on JAN 28, 2019

Their survey indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017. The official government death count is only 64.

At least 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year, according to a new Harvard study released Tuesday. The official U.S. government death toll stands at 64.


The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and reported by the Washington Post, found that health-care disruption and the loss of basic utility services had significant impacts across the U.S. territory, which was thrown into anarchy-like chaos after the September hurricane wiped out the electrical grid. Some communities were entirely isolated for weeks amid road closures and communication failures.
Researchers in the United States and Puerto Rico, led by scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, calculated the number of deaths by surveying nearly 3,300 randomly chosen households across the territory and comparing the estimated post-hurricane death rate to the mortality rate for the year before. Their survey indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017 -- a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared to 2016.

"Our results indicate that the official death count of 64 is a substantial underestimate of the true burden of mortality after Hurricane Maria," the authors wrote.

The official death estimates have drawn sharp criticism from experts and local residents, and the Harvard study criticized Puerto Rico's methods for counting the dead and its lack of transparency in sharing information

 

 

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