Covid surged in Puerto Rico shortly after mandates dropped

The coronavirus is increasing in Puerto Rico, with new cases being reported at a per capita rate more than six times the national averag...

The coronavirus is increasing in Puerto Rico, with new cases being reported at a per capita rate more than six times the national average. The spike began just five days after the island lifted all of its pandemic restrictions.

Puerto Rico has reached a seven-day average of 4,000 reported cases per day, including more than 3,700 for the first time, from less than 200 new cases per day in early March. Although the island accounts for less than 1% of the US population, it reports 7% of the country’s new cases.

“It was doubling every week for a few weeks,” said Rafael A. Irizarry, a Harvard statistician who keeps a dashboard on Puerto Rico’s Covid-19 data.

The rise in cases isn’t as steep anymore, but it’s been going on long enough to also manifest in a dreaded lag effect: hospitalizations are rising. Although only 245 people on the island are currently hospitalized with coronavirus infections, that’s nearly three times the number from two months ago, according to Health Ministry data.

New case reports began to climb on March 15, five days after Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi lifted all coronavirus restrictions in Puerto Rico, including requiring customers to present proof of vaccination for enter domestic locations and for travelers arriving in Puerto Rico to show a recent negative test, Irizarry said.

The Holy Week holiday season leading up to Easter Sunday and a string of big concerts where most people in attendance weren’t wearing masks didn’t help the situation. Dominican superstar musician Juan Luis Guerra tested positive days after performing in San Juan.

Puerto Rico has achieved high initial vaccination rates – 78% of the island’s population is fully vaccinated, well above the national average of 66%. But many people in Puerto Rico did not receive reminders, and there were an explosion of new cases on the island around the Christmas and New Year holidays, when the Omicron variant hit much of the country.

Governor Pierluisi said the era of mandates was over and it was now up to citizens to rely on their own sense of “civic responsibility” to decide what precautions to take. Still, in late April, his administration reinstated mask mandates in schools.

A coalition of scientists advising the island’s government had urged it to take a tougher stance on mask-wearing, according to Dr Kenira Thompson, chair of the coalition of scientists and vice president for research at the University. of Ponce Health Sciences in Puerto Rico.

Dr Thompson said the rise in cases was a natural result of the lifting of mandates on the mainland and on the island, which has seen a steady stream of visitors this year.

“Walk through San Juan airport – it’s crowded,” Dr. Thompson said. “There was a lot of exchange of people. Tourism is Puerto Rico’s main source of income. We are happy to have people here. But with this exchange of people, we are going to have an increase in positivity and the spread of disease. »

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Newsrust - US Top News: Covid surged in Puerto Rico shortly after mandates dropped
Covid surged in Puerto Rico shortly after mandates dropped
Newsrust - US Top News
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