Puerto Rico revises Hurricane Maria death toll

Puerto Rico's governor says he's revising the official death toll from Hurricane Maria in the wake of a report from George Washington University that estimated the storm caused 2,975 deaths.

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 2:22 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 2:24 PM

Puerto Rico's true death toll from Hurricane Maria remains elusive as the storm's one-year anniversary approaches.

The island government raised the official death toll to 2,975 on Tuesday after maintaining for months that 64 people had died as a result of the storm.

But the higher figure, based on the findings of researchers from George Washington University in a study commissioned by the US commonwealth's government, is only an approximation, not a concrete list of names, according to Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

"This number can change," Rossello said. "It could be less, it could be more, as time passes."

Here's how the official death toll has changed since the storm touched down September 20 as a Category 4 hurricane:

6 to 13 deaths

In the chaos after the storm, the island's public safety director, Héctor M. Pesquera, said at least six people were killed.

Rossello told CNN two days after the storm hit that 13 people had died in the storm. That figure was based on reports from mayors on the island, but law enforcement authorities hadn't confirmed the total, the government said.

Death toll rises to 34

Nearly two weeks after Maria, President Donald Trump touched down for the first time and downplayed the devastation.

"Every death is a horror," Trump said in early October before comparing Puerto Rico's official death toll of 16 at the time to "a real catastrophe, like Katrina," in which more than 1,800 people perished from the 2005 storm that ravaged New Orleans.

After Trump departed, the governor announced the death toll had risen to 34.

One of the conclusions of the George Washington University study was that officials did nothing to respond to public criticism and concerns about political motivations that surged when the official tally jumped to 34 shortly after Trump's visit.

Funeral homes identify nearly 500 hurricane-related deaths

In November, CNN reporters surveyed 112 funeral homes across the island, about half the total. They found that funeral home directors identified 499 deaths considered to be hurricane-related.

Official toll climbs to 64

In December, public safety officials revised the official count to 64, adding some fatalities newly certified as indirect deaths related to the storm.

For instance, emergency personnel were unable to reach the home of a man who collapsed during the storm. Doctors had classified his death as natural, and it was not initially considered a storm-related death.

Other deaths later determined to be indirectly caused by the storm included a case of exposure to carbon monoxide, a suicide, a person run over by his own vehicle and a death from complications following a fall.

Estimated 1,052 'excess deaths' after Maria

Also in December, The New York Times estimated 1,052 "excess deaths" occurred after Maria. Other media produced similar estimates.

Estimate of 4,645 deaths become rallying cry

In May, a team that included researchers from Harvard University published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimating 793 to 8,498 people died in Maria's wake, a range that some academics have criticized as overly broad.

The study's midpoint estimate -- 4,645 deaths -- became a rallying cry for activists upset by what they see as a lack of accountability for the scale of the catastrophe by officials in Puerto Rico and the United States.

An estimated 1,006 to 1,272 deaths

A research letter published this month in the medical journal JAMA estimated that between 1,006 and 1,272 people died in connection to the storm.

Puerto Rican government admits to 1,427 more deaths than 'normal'

The Puerto Rican government on August 8 quietly admitted the official toll was higher than its December tally.

In a report to Congress, the government said documents show that 1,427 more deaths occurred in the four months after the storm than "normal," compared with deaths that occurred the previous four years.

The 1,427 figure also appeared in a draft of the report -- "Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation" -- which was published and opened for public comment July 9.

The revised figure was first "revealed" by the Puerto Rico government, according to the final report, on June 13, one day after officials were forced by a judge to release death records that CNN and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo in Puerto Rico had sued to make public.

But officials at the time stopped short of updating the official death toll.

Huntsville
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 72°
Florence
Partly Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: °
Fayetteville
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 74°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 73°
Scottsboro
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 71°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

 

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540083

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798481529
Mobile41283809
Madison35157506
Tuscaloosa25925455
Shelby25302249
Montgomery24723593
Baldwin21411310
Lee15993172
Calhoun14574319
Morgan14425280
Etowah13925353
Marshall12280225
Houston10648282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10070151
St. Clair9948245
Cullman9768194
Lauderdale9460243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8341176
Walker7261278
Autauga7005108
Jackson6840112
Blount6773139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5581118
Dale4877113
Russell445738
Chilton4373113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394877
Chambers3596123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303098
Winston275873
Bibb264764
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219169
Fayette212862
Henry189943
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178141
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 857055

Reported Deaths: 12312
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby964521629
Davidson89674942
Knox51116636
Hamilton44570496
Rutherford43212437
Williamson28116217
Sumner24135349
Montgomery20402227
Wilson18907236
Out of TN1822399
Sullivan16952298
Unassigned16918134
Blount15559196
Bradley15100151
Washington14691245
Maury13545172
Sevier13451175
Putnam11437175
Madison11281241
Robertson9793132
Anderson8795171
Hamblen8632173
Greene7928156
Tipton7397104
Coffee6922123
Dickson6854113
Cumberland6769133
Carter6662158
Gibson6542146
McMinn654198
Bedford6522128
Roane6318105
Jefferson6244125
Loudon616469
Hawkins6161107
Lawrence598491
Monroe587596
Warren555581
Dyer5440106
Franklin516490
Fayette511878
Cheatham457856
Obion455096
Cocke452499
Lincoln437163
Rhea435775
Marshall420658
Campbell417463
Weakley416365
Giles4010100
Henderson380776
White368170
Carroll363483
Macon363178
Hardin358968
Hardeman353764
Henry320676
Lauderdale320244
Claiborne318873
Scott315245
Marion312847
Overton302561
Wayne297034
Hickman284746
McNairy284254
DeKalb280754
Smith278539
Haywood271562
Grainger263550
Morgan251339
Trousdale250622
Fentress243047
Johnson241939
Bledsoe215811
Chester215451
Polk208725
Unicoi204549
Crockett203549
Cannon192831
Union192234
Humphreys181528
Grundy179534
Sequatchie171829
Lake170526
Benton167340
Decatur159339
Lewis158426
Meigs139125
Stewart133028
Jackson132336
Clay110330
Houston109733
Perry107228
Moore101717
Van Buren85523
Pickett75924
Hancock59312

Community Events