Lorenzo González Feliciano indicó que recibirá dos pagos de $8,750 que cubrirán la deuda salarial.
Lorenzo González Feliciano. (David Villafañe Ramos)

Health Department Secretary Lorenzo González rejected yesterday the need to activate an emergency plan because of the rise in the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 on the island and assured that the response capacity of the health system continues under manageable parameters.

Yesterday, the agency registered 315 people hospitalized, one less than those reported for Saturday, when a record was set. Of that total, 26 remain in intensive care and 18 are on a ventilator.

"We are watching the trend in hospitalizations, as well as all the variables that we have to consider to evaluate the behavior of the virus on the island. However, despite an increase in hospitalizations, the response capacity continues under the parameters we can handle," Gonzalez said.

Although the Island's hospital system can still respond to the emergency, according to the Health Department, the Río Piedras Medical Center has begun to take preventive measures in the face of increased hospitalizations.

The executive director of the Puerto Rico Medical Services Administration (ASEM, Spanish acronym), Jorge Matta González, ordered yesterday the preparation of two isolation areas with negative air pressure at the University Hospital for Adults (UDH, Spanish acronym) to receive patients.

"These units will be ready as long as it becomes necessary to admit patients, which considerably increases the services already offered by the hospital," said Matta González.

Currently, the University Hospital for Adults, which receives most of the COVID-19 patients who come to the Medical Center, has 16 negative pressure rooms. The areas to be equipped would have capacity for 60 patients. Also, negative pressure tents were installed outside, to increase the capacity.

The Health Department reported yesterday 325 new confirmed positive cases and 255 probable COVID-19 infections, tested between July 3 and 16, while the number of deaths from the disease remained at 178.

Since the emergency began, the day with the most samples reported was July 7, with 230 confirmed positive cases, followed by July 13, with 225. Between March 9 and May 31, the highest day of confirmed cases was March 30, with 85 cases.

COVID-10 Outbreak in care centers

Yesterday it was revealed that the Health and Family Department intervened in a care center for the elderly in Vega Baja after nine confirmed coronavirus cases were reported among its residents and employees.

Family Secretary Orlando López Belmonte said the four residents infected with COVID-19 have been moved out of the Villa Almirante Home. Meanwhile, the five employees are in quarantine.

"Immediate actions have been taken along with Health Department officials, to control and reduce the risk of infection for other residents. The transfer of residents with positive tests to COVID-19 was coordinated and they are communicating with the families of the rest of the residents to inform them of the situation," López Belmonte said in writing.

In total, Hogar Villa Almirante has 23 residents. The official said that all of them were tested for COVID-19, known as the molecular test or PCR.

This is the second outbreak identified in a long-term care facility. A COVID-19 outbreak was reported two weeks ago at a facility in Carolina.

Until last week, 18 residents between 52 and 89 had tested positive for COVID-19 on the diagnostic test at the Carolina facility. Five employees were also infected, and two residents who tested positive for the virus died.

Will remain vigilant

The Health Secretary said that the Investigations Unit and the Auxiliary Environmental Health Secretary have intervened in 30 facilities that, somehow, do not comply with protection and security measures.

“So far, we have intervened in about 30 establishments, in which we have carried out closures, guidance, and voluntary closures,” he said.