SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico appeared to be heading towards herd immunity this spring before people began to calm their guard against COVID-19 and new variants began to spread across the United States.
Now, a sharp rise in cases and hospitalizations has put medical experts at odds with the government, which is struggling to protect people’s health while also trying to prevent an economic meltdown on an island hit by hurricanes, earthquakes and a protracted financial crisis.
“The difficulty here is how to find the Solomoni decision … to give people the opportunity to work and take responsibility as well as maintain health as a priority,” said Ramon Lyell, former president of the Puerto Rican Restaurant Association. “These are difficult conversations.”
It’s a delicate balance of an island that has imposed lockdowns and stashes of mandates before any U.S. state and has some of the most stringent entry requirements of any U.S. jurisdiction – measures that helped contain contagion before the recent surge.
Overall, the land of 3.3 million people reported more than 115,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, more than 115,000 suspected cases and more than 2,000 deaths, with transmission rates rising in the last week of April to 28 cases per 100,000 people per day, Compared to 17 cases per 100,000 people per day. 100,000 in the United States mainland.
The pandemic unleashed the second largest economic downturn in Puerto Rico since record-keeping began in 1980, according to Jose Caraballo, a Puerto Rican economist. The biggest Hurricane Maria was Hurricane Maria, which caused more than $ 100 billion in damage in 2017, with nearly 3,000 people dying in its brutal wake.
Caraballo said more than 30,000 jobs have been lost due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and at least 1,400 businesses have shut down – this is on an island that has seen nearly 12% of its residents flee in the past decade and whose government is struggling to be crushed. The debt that led her to filing for the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history in 2017.
“I was surprised by what the Puerto Rican people were carrying,” Caraballo said.
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