Study on Death Toll in Puerto Rico Following Hurricane Maria Last Year Is Raised from 64 to 2,975

Puerto Rica, Pixabay
A few weeks ago, Puerto Rico raised its death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975, following a report from George Washington University, which compared historical mortality rates to arrive at its figures. Much of the discrepancy comes from government failure to instruct physicians on how to certify deaths. Also, some of the deaths were not caused by the hurricane itself but from indirect causes, such as lack of medications. Critics say the death toll now is greatly inflated to qualify for more money from the US Congress for reconstruction and human services. The Puerto Rican government has submitted a request for $139-billion for new projects. The likelihood of this being granted is in proportion to the number of deaths attributed to the tragedy. [See additional commentary in Forum section dated 2018 Aug 30.] -GEG

A study commissioned by Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello and released on Tuesday, raised the death toll as a result of Hurricane Maria last year from 64 to nearly 3,000.

The report, by researchers at George Washington University estimated there were 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico stemming from the hurricane from September 2017 through February 2018. The total is vastly greater than the official fatality count of 64, and is more than double some of the estimates from previous studies by academic researchers and media organizations, according to the WSJ.

For the past year, Puerto Rico’s government faced criticism that it had drastically undercounted the number of fatalities caused by Maria.

Then, earlier this month, it  acknowledged in a document filed to Congress that the death toll from Maria was much higher than the official total. But Gov. Rossello’s administration said it would await the results of the George Washington University study, which it commissioned in December, to update the official count.

The release of the George Washington University study comes as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria approaches on Sept. 20, and Congress considers the island government’s request for federal aid to rebuild from the storm.

But where did the massive revision come from, and how were the nearly three thousand people missed the first time around? In one word, statistics.

The George Washington University researchers estimated the number of excess deaths by analyzing death certificates and other mortality data, and comparing the number of deaths during the designated period to past mortality patterns. They calculated the total number of deaths in the period was 22% higher than the number of fatalities that would have been expected, the researchers said.

Researchers also pointed to several problems in the death-certification process that contributed to the island government’s undercounting of fatalities. Among them were a lack of training for physicians on how to certify deaths after a natural disaster and the government’s lack of communication about proper death-certificate reporting prior to the 2017 hurricane season.

One can even all it “non-GAAP” deaths, or determinations revised well after the event, with the appropriate nudge here or there:

Researchers’ interviews with people in Puerto Rico involved in the death-certification process revealed “confusion about the guidelines” and “reluctance to relate deaths to hurricanes due to concern about the subjectivity of this determination,” according to the study.

The report even blamed the government’s poor communication skills and the lack of personnel training for being able to, wait for it, determine if a death was a death.

Read full article here…

Additional source on indirect deaths- click here.

Related Post

Visit our Classified ads.

Check out our Classified ads at the bottom of this page.

Recent stories & commentary


For classified advertising rates and terms, click here. The appearance of ads on this site does not signify endorsement by the publisher. We do not attempt to verify the accuracy of statements made therein or vouch for the integrity of advertisers. However, we will investigate complaints from readers and remove any message we find to be misleading or that promotes anything fraudulent, illegal, or unethical.

For Sale

Ten Days at Jekyll Island, a novel by Patrea Patrick, tells the true story of a secret meeting held in November of 1910 on a privately owned resort island, the outcome of which drastically changed the world. It was at this meeting that a banking cartel was forged; a cartel that, three years later, would be issued a government charter to do business as The United States Federal Reserve System. You will discover why secrecy was essential. Based on historical documentation from The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin. (More)


Titanic: A Perfect Crime, a novel by Patrea Patrick, explores little known facts of that famous tragedy and provides jaw-dropping insights to new discoveries that came with the finding of the 100-year-old ship wreck. The book’s scenario of what really happened that fateful night is amazingly consistent with the historical record. No other theory explains so many parts of the mystery. (More)




Offline is a documentary on the inevitability of the Earth being slammed by a mega solar flare – not the common type that interrupts communications and creates a light show in the Northern skies – but the big brothers thousands of times more powerful. These monsters deliver enough energy to blow apart the master transformers that supply the planet’s energy grids. When that happens, the lights go out for longer than anyone wants to think about. These X-Class solar storms hit the Earth every 150 years, on average. The last one arrived 156 years ago. We are overdue (More)


Leave a Reply

Notify of