A Harvard Study Reveals That More Than Thousands Died in Puerto Rico Because of Hurricane Maria

Harvard released a study on Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria was a lot higher than previously estimated.

According to the Washington Post, the study estimates that at least 4, 645 deaths can be attributed to the hurricane and its aftermath. The storm then seems a lot more deadlier than what was previously thought. Officials had previously predicted that only 64 people were dead.

The original count received a ton of criticism from experts and local residents, and the government responded with an independent study to review those number. It was never completed, as reported by the Post.

Hurricane Maria ran through the island back in September. It destroyed the homes and knocked the power out of almost the entirety of more than the 3 million people there.

As reported by USA today, Harvard surveyed more than 3,000 randomly chosen homes across Puerto Rico. Participants were asked about numerous things such as infrastructure loss, displacement, and causes of death.

The study found that the interruption of medical care was the main cause of the high mortality rates. Huffington Post says researchers even think that their estimates are “likely to be conservative” and most likely exceed 5,000.

Executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, Carlos Mercader wrote in a state that, “as the world knows, the magnitude of this tragic disaster caused by Hurricane Maria resulted in many fatalities. We have always suspected the number to be higher than what was previously reported.”

In the past, President Donald Trump and his administration had repeatedly downplayed the disastrous effects Hurricane Maria had on Puerto Rico. According to the Atlantic, with another strong hurricane season coming up soon, many residents still live under tarps instead of roofs, electricity is tenuous, and health care isn’t as easy to access.

When he visited the island last October, Trump said Hurricane Maria wasn’t a “real catastrophe” in comparison to Hurricane Katrina.Over 1,800 people were dead after Katrina. According to Huffington Post, there were only 16 people dead at the time.

“Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s been taking place in Puerto Rico,” Trump said.

Trump also mention how much federal aid the US was giving to Puerto Rico, but San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz asked for more rescue and relief efforts.

According to the Atlantic, she tweeted on Tuesday, “it took too long to understand the need for an appropriate response was NOT about politics but about saving lives.”

Huffington Post reported that many households were without power for over two months. Due to the lack of electricity, there was limited access to safe drinking water and plumbing, which caused concerns for bacterial disease. In the study, younger individuals averaging the age of 25 vacated their homes leaving behind the elderly.

Puerto Rico’s hurricane season begins again on Friday and it's scary to think of the millions of people on the island who are still feeling the aftermaths of last season. According to CBS, more than 11,000 people are still without power.