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Wed Apr 15, 2020, 04:38 PM

Missteps mar Puerto Rico's response to the coronavirus

Source: Associated Press

Missteps mar Puerto Rico’s response to the coronavirus

By DÁNICA COTO
April 15, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico officials say data that show COVID-19 cases on the island are much lower than in some U.S. states constitute proof they are containing the new coronavirus, but a series of missteps is raising concerns it could be more widespread than believed.

The U.S. territory is bracing for an anticipated peak of cases in early May as federal authorities probe a $38 million contract for testing kits that experts say are urgently needed but never arrived. Local officials, meanwhile, have favored televised discussions over press conferences in a situation that has angered many and drawn comparisons to Hurricane Maria.

“We’re basically operating blindly,” said Mónica Feliú-Mójer, spokeswoman for CienciaPR, a nonprofit group of Puerto Rican scientists who are demanding widespread testing.

Puerto Rico announced its first COVID-19 cases in mid-March, including one involving an elderly Italian tourist. Since then, officials have reported at least 51 deaths and more than 970 confirmed cases, with more than 1,400 test results pending. Some 9,200 people overall have been tested on an island of 3.2 million inhabitants, representing less than 1% of the population. Experts say the number is way below those of U.S. states with similar populations that the local government has used for comparison to say they have the coronavirus under control.

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Epidemiologist Fabiola Cruz said Puerto Rico has conducted 2,800 tests per million people, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 6,000 tests per million to make accurate projections. Overall, the U.S. national average is 596 tests per 100,000 people, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico reports 288 tests per 100,000.

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Read more: https://apnews.com/e5ba6c2639ee52dad5e367d2228ac764

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