Puerto Rico revises Hurricane Maria death toll

Puerto Rico's governor says he's revising the official death toll from Hurricane Maria in the wake of a report from George Washington University that estimated the storm caused 2,975 deaths.

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 2:02 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 2:24 PM

Puerto Rico's true death toll from Hurricane Maria remains elusive as the storm's one-year anniversary approaches.

The island government raised the official death toll to 2,975 on Tuesday after maintaining for months that 64 people had died as a result of the storm.

But the higher figure, based on the findings of researchers from George Washington University in a study commissioned by the US commonwealth's government, is only an approximation, not a concrete list of names, according to Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

"This number can change," Rossello said. "It could be less, it could be more, as time passes."

Here's how the official death toll has changed since the storm touched down September 20 as a Category 4 hurricane:

6 to 13 deaths

In the chaos after the storm, the island's public safety director, Héctor M. Pesquera, said at least six people were killed.

Rossello told CNN two days after the storm hit that 13 people had died in the storm. That figure was based on reports from mayors on the island, but law enforcement authorities hadn't confirmed the total, the government said.

Death toll rises to 34

Nearly two weeks after Maria, President Donald Trump touched down for the first time and downplayed the devastation.

"Every death is a horror," Trump said in early October before comparing Puerto Rico's official death toll of 16 at the time to "a real catastrophe, like Katrina," in which more than 1,800 people perished from the 2005 storm that ravaged New Orleans.

After Trump departed, the governor announced the death toll had risen to 34.

One of the conclusions of the George Washington University study was that officials did nothing to respond to public criticism and concerns about political motivations that surged when the official tally jumped to 34 shortly after Trump's visit.

Funeral homes identify nearly 500 hurricane-related deaths

In November, CNN reporters surveyed 112 funeral homes across the island, about half the total. They found that funeral home directors identified 499 deaths considered to be hurricane-related.

Official toll climbs to 64

In December, public safety officials revised the official count to 64, adding some fatalities newly certified as indirect deaths related to the storm.

For instance, emergency personnel were unable to reach the home of a man who collapsed during the storm. Doctors had classified his death as natural, and it was not initially considered a storm-related death.

Other deaths later determined to be indirectly caused by the storm included a case of exposure to carbon monoxide, a suicide, a person run over by his own vehicle and a death from complications following a fall.

Estimated 1,052 'excess deaths' after Maria

Also in December, The New York Times estimated 1,052 "excess deaths" occurred after Maria. Other media produced similar estimates.

Estimate of 4,645 deaths become rallying cry

In May, a team that included researchers from Harvard University published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimating 793 to 8,498 people died in Maria's wake, a range that some academics have criticized as overly broad.

The study's midpoint estimate -- 4,645 deaths -- became a rallying cry for activists upset by what they see as a lack of accountability for the scale of the catastrophe by officials in Puerto Rico and the United States.

An estimated 1,006 to 1,272 deaths

A research letter published this month in the medical journal JAMA estimated that between 1,006 and 1,272 people died in connection to the storm.

Puerto Rican government admits to 1,427 more deaths than 'normal'

The Puerto Rican government on August 8 quietly admitted the official toll was higher than its December tally.

In a report to Congress, the government said documents show that 1,427 more deaths occurred in the four months after the storm than "normal," compared with deaths that occurred the previous four years.

The 1,427 figure also appeared in a draft of the report -- "Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation" -- which was published and opened for public comment July 9.

The revised figure was first "revealed" by the Puerto Rico government, according to the final report, on June 13, one day after officials were forced by a judge to release death records that CNN and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo in Puerto Rico had sued to make public.

But officials at the time stopped short of updating the official death toll.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 110592

Reported Deaths: 3171
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7731171
DeSoto655177
Harrison478481
Jackson429178
Rankin380086
Madison371092
Lee339279
Forrest292777
Jones281682
Washington250697
Lafayette241342
Lauderdale2329130
Lamar212038
Bolivar197775
Oktibbeha194154
Neshoba1795111
Lowndes173662
Panola164736
Leflore158786
Sunflower156749
Warren151854
Monroe143672
Pontotoc143019
Pike135555
Lincoln133954
Copiah133336
Marshall130026
Coahoma122836
Scott122729
Grenada119637
Simpson117648
Yazoo116933
Union113825
Holmes113060
Tate112339
Leake111839
Itawamba108724
Pearl River107456
Adams104042
Prentiss100919
Wayne97921
Alcorn94412
George93217
Marion92642
Covington90825
Tippah84820
Newton84227
Chickasaw81724
Tallahatchie81725
Winston81421
Tishomingo78640
Hancock76527
Attala76325
Clarke70948
Clay66621
Jasper66016
Walthall63427
Calhoun60912
Noxubee59516
Smith57716
Claiborne53016
Montgomery52723
Tunica51817
Lawrence48914
Yalobusha47914
Perry47522
Carroll45812
Greene44717
Stone44614
Amite41513
Quitman4096
Humphreys39916
Jefferson Davis39311
Webster36313
Wilkinson32920
Kemper31615
Benton3004
Sharkey27714
Jefferson26210
Franklin2283
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 152272

Reported Deaths: 2621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22300372
Mobile14273314
Tuscaloosa9886132
Montgomery9615196
Madison895192
Shelby700260
Lee643066
Baldwin636967
Marshall425348
Calhoun408459
Etowah399149
Morgan393232
Houston362332
DeKalb313326
Elmore308152
St. Clair276742
Limestone268327
Walker264192
Talladega253634
Cullman223923
Lauderdale204340
Autauga198928
Franklin198131
Jackson197914
Russell18993
Colbert188927
Dallas184527
Blount182723
Chilton178731
Escambia170328
Covington164429
Coffee16299
Dale161551
Pike130112
Tallapoosa126986
Chambers126643
Clarke126116
Marion103929
Butler99640
Barbour9819
Marengo96421
Winston88613
Geneva8297
Pickens79317
Randolph79314
Lawrence78830
Bibb78513
Hale73729
Cherokee71414
Clay70312
Lowndes69827
Bullock63417
Henry6286
Monroe6259
Washington62012
Crenshaw58830
Perry5796
Conecuh55413
Wilcox55412
Fayette54012
Macon52819
Cleburne5207
Sumter46421
Lamar4555
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 66°
Columbus
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 65°
Oxford
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 63°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather