In response to the news that Puerto Rican officials raised the Hurricane Maria death toll from 64 to a shocking 2,975, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement assuring Americans that "the federal government has been... supportive" of the USA territory's recovery efforts.
Governor Ricardo Rosselló made the official announcement on Tuesday, following the publication of an independent study estimating the casualties at 2,975.
Puerto Rico's government officially updated the death toll on the island from just 64 in an initial estimate to 2,975, with Rosselló telling reporters that he personally "made mistakes" in the weeks following the storm's landfall.
Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello plans to address the public about the report on Tuesday afternoon.
According to researchers, part of the reason the toll had been so low is that doctors were not trained in how to classify deaths as a result of a disaster.
The government of Puerto Rico stopped publicly sharing its data on hurricane deaths in December 2017.
They also stated that physicians and others told them that Puerto Rico's government did not notify them about federal guidelines on how to document deaths related to a major disaster.
"That caused a number of issues", Goldman said, explaining that people were forced to exert themselves physically or were exposed to intense heat without fans or air conditioning.
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Households went for an average of 84 days without electricity, 64 days without water, and 41 days without cellular telephone coverage after the storm.
"That's unusual in the U.S. after a disaster". By comparison, Hurricane Katrina killed 1,833.
Hurricane Maria caused the largest blackout in U.S. history, according to research consultancy the Rhodium Group.
The study found that those in low-income areas, and elderly men, were at the greatest risk of dying. They also reviewed mortality data, including deaths by age, sex and municipality of residence, from July 2010 to February 2018. "We used very rigorous methodology".
"The results of our epidemiological study suggest that, tragically, Hurricane Maria led to a large number of excess deaths throughout the island", principal investigator for the report, Carlos Santos-Burgoa, said. Maria was a Category 4 with 154 miles per hour winds.
The emergency response to Maria became highly politicized as the Trump administration was criticized as being slow to recognize the gravity of the devastation and too sluggish in providing disaster relief to Puerto Rico, an island of more than 3 million residents.
The storm made landfall on Puerto Rico with winds close to 150 miles per hour (241 km per hour) on September 17 and plowed a path of destruction across the island, causing property damage estimated at $90 billion and leaving much of the island without electricity for months.
She added that she worries whether Puerto Rico, which is trying to restructure a portion of its more than $70 billion public debt amid a 12-year recession, can adopt any of the recommendations.