Puerto Rico reported yesterday 1,012 COVID-19 deaths, a record figure that reflects the dramatic increase in cases that is impacting the island just a little more than two weeks after the general elections, as experts had anticipated.
”We will reach 1,000 deaths before Thanksgiving and, at this rate, we will surpass that figure, between 1,200 and 1,300 people will die (this year from COVID-19),” said Puerto Health Secretary, Lorenzo González, last Thursday, in a radio interview.
According to Health Department data released yesterday, the island reports 45,268 positive cases confirmed through molecular tests, another 1,166 cases through antigen tests, and 37,873 tested positive through serological tests (antibodies).
Puerto Rico also reported another record figure yesterday: 621 COVID patients hospitalized, with the intensive care unit occupancy rate of 71 percent among patients admitted for complications associated with the virus and other health conditions.
According to the Health Department dashboard, there were 98 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units and 99 connected to ventilators yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Puerto Rico Public Health Trust revealed another record figure in the COVID risk index they created to measure how the virus is spreading and take action based on data. “For the first time, we reached 9 on the Risk Index, which indicates Substantial (orange) risk level,” the Trust reported through its Facebook page.
Health Trust Executive Director, José Rodríguez Orengo, also highlighted that Puerto Rico reported 137 deaths in the first 20 days of November.
”If we follow this trend, by the end of the month we will exceed 200 deaths,” he estimated.
In an interview with El Nuevo Dia, Health Deputy Secretary, Iris Cardona, expressed her frustration with the current COVID situation on the island.
”This is not about numbers, but people about who are dying,” said Cardona, while regretting that, if the number of people infected cannot be controlled, neither can complications and deaths.
She confirmed that all the lines in incidences of the new coronavirus are increasing in Puerto Rico.
”This moment calls us to show solidarity, and why show solidarity? Because there is a pattern that indicates that young people get infected, but it’s older adults who die. And an older person´s defense system is not as good as that of a young person, and besides other social and health factors combine, and that end ups in their death,” she added.
Health data point that the highest number of confirmed cases remains among the 20-to-29-year old group, which indicates that infections concentrate in that group, followed by the 30-to-59 group, while deaths are concentrated among the 60-or-older group, mainly among those over 80.
Cardona anticipated that according to Health studies, the island could reach an average of more than 1,000 cases daily over the next days. Those numbers, she said, would result in a spike in reported deaths due to health complications.
”It is not a matter of closing more sectors, but rather that people understand that we have to be very cautious,” she said, warning that family meetings will bring more cases and more deaths.
She added that the Health Department is already completing the logistics plans for the distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Daniel Colón-Ramos, president of the board of directors of the non-profit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico, anticipated on his social media accounts that the most difficult period of the pandemic is coming. “Our sacrifices now will save lives,” he said.
(Reporter Carlos Tolentino Rosario collaborated with this story)