Trump questions validity of Hurricane Maria death toll in Puerto Rico
By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer
September 13, 2018, 3:53:30 PM EDT
Share this article:
President Donald Trump on Thursday morning questioned the recent findings that estimated the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria's devastation last September was near 3,000 people.
"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," Trump tweeted. "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000..."
Trump blamed the high death toll number on Democrats, who he claimed were seeking to make him look bad.
"....This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"
3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
Earlier this week Trump said "I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico," and "we're still helping Puerto Rico."
An independent report published by researchers at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in late August, estimated that there were there were 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico.
The new report’s findings analyzed death certificates and other mortality data for six months from September 2017 and February 2018. The new death toll is 22 percent greater than the number of deaths that would’ve been expected during that period in a year without the deadly hurricane, according to the report.
The report was commissioned by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, in light of mounting evidence that the low figure was a "gross misrepresentation” of the fatalities that had occurred, Vox reported.
"The results of our epidemiological study suggest that, tragically, Hurricane Maria led to a large number of excess deaths throughout the island,” said Carlos Santos-Burgoa, M.D., MPH, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator and a professor of global health at GW Milken Institute SPH, adding in a press release that lower-income citizens and the elderly faced the highest risk.
The study showed that the risk of death during the period from September 2017 to February 2018 was greatest – 60 percent higher than expected – for those living in poorer communities and that the elevated risk persisted beyond February.
Prior to the release of the report, the Puerto Rican government had maintained an official storm death toll of 64 people.
Maria death toll estimated at nearly 3,000, study finds
Florence’s excessive rainfall to trigger natural disaster in the Carolinas
Reports: Deteriorating conditions leave nearly 300,000 without power as Hurricane Florence targets Carolinas
However, even prior to the release of the George Washington report, Puerto Rico officials had quietly acknowledged that the number of 64 was not accurate.
This past spring, researchers from Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, concluded that between Sept. 20 and Dec. 31, 2017, there were 4,645 "excess deaths." The findings were published this past May in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to the Associated Press, Rosselló said in a Facebook post Thursday that "the victims of Puerto Rico, and the people of Puerto Rico in general, do not deserve to be questioned about their pain."
House Democrats responded to the president's Twitter comments with a strong rebuttal.
President Trump won't acknowledge the thousands of Americans who died on his watch.— House Democrats (@HouseDemocrats) September 13, 2018
And even worse, Republicans have no interest in holding this administration accountable and ensuring that Congress is prepared to respond to these disasters. https://t.co/9qktMZyJGc
Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, also took to Twitter to respond to Trump's comments, saying the storm response was about saving lives, not politics.
Damn it: this is NOT about politics this was always about SAVING LIVES. pic.twitter.com/SjwywKN3Jh— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) September 13, 2018
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - November 15, 2018, 2:07:59 AM EST
A major winter storm is gathering strength over the eastern United States, spreading disruptive snow, ice and rain across the region.
Weather News - November 14, 2018, 12:43:11 PM EST
A pair of storm systems will bring the risk for rain and snow to parts of the Middle East through Friday.
Weather News - November 15, 2018, 2:37:59 AM EST
A storm will spread locally heavy snow, produce ice and cause travel problems from Arkansas and Mississippi to Michigan and Ohio into Thursday night.
Weather News - November 15, 2018, 2:29:06 AM EST
Motorists, airline passengers and school districts can expect an early hit from old man winter with snow, ice and rain set to cause disruptions over a large portion of the eastern United States prior to the end of this week.
For many college students who are away from home for the first time, getting the flu and taking care of themselves is uncharted territory.
Thanksgiving travel: Most areas of US to dodge major weather-related issues with exception a few pockets of snowfall, rain
Weather News - November 15, 2018, 3:03:55 AM EST
The overall weather pattern is looking much less stormy for millions that will be taking to the roads and the skies ahead of Thanksgiving starting this weekend across the United States.
While weather-related vehicle emergencies aren't always life-threatening, freezing conditions can quickly create a deadly situation.