Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Trump claims Maria death toll rose 'like magic'

Trump claims Maria death toll rose 'like magic'

Stephen Colbert is not too happy with President Donald Trump's recent challenges to the viral death toll numbers in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria past year.

Public health experts have estimated that almost 3,000 perished because of the effects of Hurricane Maria.

"'When Trump visited the island territory last October, OFFICIALS told him in a briefing 16 PEOPLE had died from Maria.'" Trump quoted The Post's story in a tweet.

Puerto Rico has been a US territory since 1898. Curiel, a 60-year-old who had heart problems and diabetes, walked 10 flights of stairs to the ground floor of his condominium, twice a day, to get insulin from a refrigerator cooled by a generator after Hurricane Maria hit. On Oct. 29, he died of a heart attack. It's based on "a careful examination of all of the deaths officially reported to the government of Puerto Rico between September 2017 and February 2018... using state-of-the-art mathematical modeling to compare the total number of deaths during that time to the expected number of deaths, based on historical patterns as well as age, sex, socioeconomic status and migration from the island".

The president wrote in a tweet, "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico".

This "issue" was not on my radar until one of my kids texted in a family chat: "Is trump off his rocker with this Puerto Rico death toll stuff?"

A Government Accountability Office report last week confirmed many of those findings, and also noted that 54 per cent of the FEMA workers deployed past year were serving in a role they were not qualified to perform.

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But Trump's assertion defies the findings of at least eight different studies that estimated the number of deaths to be at least several hundred, if not more than 1,000. Direct deaths include such fatalities as drownings in a storm surge or being crushed in a wind-toppled building.

Building on comments he made earlier in the week in which he said "3,000 people did not die", the President on Saturday said the number appeared "like magic" and there was "no way" it could be accurate. I don't know. We will never know how many, how many we lost. We are committed to the health of the population. One thing's for sure, and I told you guys before, one thing I am proud, is like, we're standing up on our own two feet, ' Cora said.

Jason Ortiz with the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda said he is also disgusted at the president for blaming the Democrats in his second tweet. "Then, like magic, '3000 PEOPLE KILLED'".

"I disagree with @POTUS", Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, said on Twitter. "So I have no reason to dispute those numbers".

On Thursday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted, "This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch".

According to recent reports, on Wednesday, the USA territory officials said that about 20,000 pallets of water bottles which were previously shipped to Puerto Rico following the devastating Hurricane which struck Maria island previous year were unused till today and that this water became too much contaminated to drink. The President has disputed this, leading to all sorts of acrimony, including the recent decision by House Hispanic Caucus to snub an invitation to the White House.

"Five deaths have been recorded thus far with regard to hurricane Florence!" the president said.

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