A new study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimates that those living in Puerto Rico died at significantly higher rates three months after Hurricane Maria struck the island, The New York Times reports.
It’s been estimated that roughly 4,600 people have died due to inadequate healthcare since the hurricane made landfall in late 2017. Researchers reported that their findings aren’t yet concrete; they’re looking for more research methods and data to finish compiling the studies. The current findings are reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to the study, about 15 percent of the population interviewed for the data reported that someone in their household was unable to get medical attention the day after Hurricane Maria. In total, the study states that about one-third of the deaths were caused by the inability to get healthcare or perhaps it was obtained too late.
Researchers compiled the data by visiting nearly 104 neighborhoods across the island. In efforts to represent all facets of the country, they made it a point to visit both urban and non-urban areas. They chose random households and asked residents about the death toll in their families.
Associate Professor of Psychology Domingo J. Marqués at Albizu University San Juan recalled that people “died alone in their houses. Nobody went there. Some of them were covered by a landslide, and months after they’ve not recovered the bodies.”
Amid these dire circumstances, it’s alarming that the government’s findings of those who died stopped at just 64 when the data provided by the study greatly exceeds that number. “It just is stunning how poor our information was as to what was happening in Puerto Rico,” stated Leslie Roberts, a professor, and director of the program on forced migration and health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.