The Government of Puerto Rico Admitted an Increase in September Deaths After Maria, But Won’t Say Much More

Earlier on Wednesday, government officials from Puerto Rico held a press conference about how the island is processing and certifying deaths since Hurricane Maria hit landfall on September 20. The press conference was attended by Secretary of Public Security Héctor M. Pesquera, Edwin Crespo from the Department of Forensic Sciences and Wanda Llovet, director of Puerto Rico’s Demographic Registry. First, even with claims that the death toll caused by Hurricane Maria could be higher, the press conference gave a lengthy explanation as to why the death count is still at 55, as the following official document states:

However, at one point of the press conference, Llovet shared the latest certified death counts from September and October, along with daily averages for September. As the following tweet from our founder reported, there was a significant increase in deaths after September 20 but there is no real explanation why:

In addition, when compared to previous years, the death count in September, 2017 was significantly higher (and with a smaller population too):

Llovet also shared information about October death tolls, but said that these numbers were not final because the time to process the certification deaths went from the normal four days before the hurricane to 14 days after the hurricane:

There were other takeaways from the Wednesday press conference. Here are just a few:

But still only 55 certified deaths from the hurricane.

That is what the government of Puerto Rico is saying, even though demographer José López said this (in Spanish) about the noticeable spike in September deaths: “The reality is that this is not normal, and we have to know that there was a phenomenon here, and that is a concrete fact… the reality that if you see the data, one sees an increase.”

Here is the full press conference in Spanish if you want to watch it:

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