SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Puerto Rico appears to be rushing to immunize herds this spring, before people begin to defend themselves against COVID-19 and new strains begin to spread. US territories
Now, a sharp rise in cases and hospitalizations has led to medical experts at odds with the government, which has struggled to protect public health while trying to prevent economic blasts on hurricane-stricken islands and earthquakes. Protracted financial crisis
“The difficulty here is how you can find solomonic decisions … so that people have the opportunity to work and take responsibility and stay healthy as a priority, too,”; said Ramón Leal, former president of the Puerto Rico Restaurant Association. Said, “This is a difficult conversation.”
It is a delicate balance for the island that imposes blocking and masking before any U.S. state and has the strictest entry requirements of American jurisdictions – measures that help with pre-infection. Will be the latest trend
Overall, 3.3 million people have reported more than 115,000 confirmed cases, more than 115,000 suspects and more than 2,000 deaths, with transmission rates rising in the last week of April to 28 per case. 100,000 people per day, compared to 17 people per day on the US mainland.
The outbreak of the pandemic caused Puerto Rico’s economy to drop the second-largest since the record began in 1980, according to Puerto Rican economist José Caraballo. The biggest hit came from Hurricane Maria, which caused more than $ 100 billion in damage in 2017, killing nearly 3,000 people from the torrid aftermath.
More than 30,000 jobs have been lost, Caraballo said as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and at least 1,400 businesses had to shut down, Caraballo said, an island with nearly 12 percent of its population fled over the past decade and the government’s government is running. Struggling with repression The debt that led to the biggest bankruptcy in US history in 2017.
“I was shocked by what the people of Puerto Rico have to endure,” said Carabalo.
Many people still mourn the loss of their home, work, business or loved ones.
Luis Ángel Sánchez had two close friends in the intensive care unit and lost his father and child from COVID-19 in April 2020, less than two weeks apart. Sánchez was vaccinated in mid-March.
“The vaccine won’t erase my scars or heal my broken heart,” he wrote on Facebook that day. “It won’t bring my son back. It will not bring my father back. They and others who have succumbed to this monster will not die in vain if we continue to do the right thing. ”
Sanchez said residents should be vigilant and urged the government to impose tougher sanctions on those who fail to comply with COVID-19.
“It’s not over yet,” he said.
The Pedro Pierluisi government has resisted tougher restrictions, saying another blockade would be too harsh and things would get better and the island would have herd immunity by August: “The solution is vaccination.”
More than 2 million doses have been administered on the island, with 55% being administered at least once and 27% two.
While the health agency said they were relieved, many were eager to get vaccinated. But they note that some, who are not yet fully protected, ignore restrictions that include a curfew longer than a year.
That, and the presence of at least seven strains of COVID-19 on the island, are believed to have contributed to more cases. Another expert said the test fell from an average of 7,000 tests per day to 2,000, a trend that blamed people being vaccinated.
The fight against COVID-19 is also complicated as it drains medical capabilities to the US mainland.
The number of physicians in Puerto Rico dropped to 9,000 from 14,000 in 2006, said Dr. Victor Ramos, pediatrician and president of the Island Society of Surgeons. A similar drop has been seen among nurses and technicians.
“Health professionals are exhausted and scarce,” said Daniel Colon-Ramos, chair of the Scientific Alliance advising the governor of Puerto Rico.
Ramos and other health experts said the governor should temporarily ban indoor eating, a measure imposed last year. Restaurants and other locations are currently limited to 30% capacity, but officials say the limits are difficult to measure and question whether they will be tracked.
It’s an issue that governments and business owners have clashed over and over again, with industry insisting that dining in indoor restaurants is safer because there are more safety measures in someone’s home.
Mateo Cidre, owner of four restaurants and bakeries, said the industry has not yet recovered from nine weeks last year when restaurants could only deliver or pick up on the roadside. He suffered heavy losses and asked for a suspension to pay for his car and home.
He criticized the government for not releasing restrictions any more, despite the decline in cases.
“They were never flexible with us,” he said. “It was a very boring road.”
Other industries were hit hard with a $ 2 billion drop in retail sales last year, said Jorge Argüelles, former president of the Puerto Rico Retail Association.
Those squeezed by the restrictions say the governor should impose more stringent restrictions at airports where only 30% of arrivals experienced the necessary negative COVID-19 test. Several tourists have been arrested for beating officials after refusing to comply with health advice.
The voluntary 14-day detention option was canceled on Wednesday and those without negative testing will be subject to a $ 300 fine if they are not presented within 48 hours, however there is no system to fine them upon arrival. It’s up to people to voluntarily complete the paperwork online later, so that’s fine.
“The thing I’m most concerned about,” said Colón-Ramos, administrator of the Science Council, “I am thinking that today there are still living people who can survive or die depending on Puerto Rican behavior.