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: 33591

Reported Deaths: 1204
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds264246
DeSoto176718
Madison135536
Jones115949
Neshoba101673
Harrison100312
Rankin99915
Lauderdale93781
Forrest92743
Scott78515
Jackson70417
Copiah62715
Washington62610
Leake59820
Lee57521
Holmes57041
Oktibbeha55728
Wayne55116
Warren54020
Yazoo5336
Grenada5227
Lowndes51513
Leflore50756
Lamar5007
Lincoln49234
Pike46617
Sunflower4368
Monroe43135
Lafayette4194
Covington3965
Panola3926
Bolivar37018
Attala36523
Simpson3603
Newton35210
Adams33218
Tate31912
Pontotoc3166
Marion30812
Chickasaw29119
Claiborne28910
Winston28210
Noxubee2738
Pearl River26932
Jasper2666
Marshall2643
Clay25111
Smith23412
Union23311
Coahoma2136
Clarke21125
Walthall2087
Lawrence1892
Yalobusha1838
Kemper17914
Carroll17111
Humphreys1569
Tallahatchie1564
Montgomery1432
Calhoun1425
Tippah14211
Itawamba1408
Hancock13413
Webster12811
Tunica1153
Jefferson1143
Jefferson Davis1144
Prentiss1113
Greene1089
Amite1043
George943
Wilkinson949
Tishomingo911
Quitman891
Alcorn762
Perry764
Choctaw754
Stone722
Franklin472
Benton420
Sharkey400
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 48588

Reported Deaths: 1042
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5687161
Mobile4315136
Montgomery4275109
Tuscaloosa238248
Marshall181511
Madison16208
Lee146337
Shelby141424
Morgan11575
Baldwin10399
Walker101825
Elmore97519
Dallas9189
Franklin90616
Etowah83413
DeKalb7905
Chambers64727
Autauga64312
Butler63728
Tallapoosa60669
Russell5890
Unassigned53826
Houston5366
Limestone5251
Lauderdale5146
Cullman4905
Lowndes47922
Pike4525
Colbert4426
St. Clair4402
Escambia4358
Calhoun4035
Coffee3923
Covington38110
Bullock36910
Barbour3622
Jackson3432
Talladega3337
Dale3261
Marengo32011
Hale31722
Wilcox2958
Clarke2876
Sumter28512
Winston2773
Chilton2762
Blount2581
Monroe2442
Pickens2446
Marion24114
Randolph2289
Conecuh2187
Macon2029
Choctaw19912
Bibb1981
Greene1888
Perry1791
Henry1403
Crenshaw1253
Washington1217
Lawrence1130
Cherokee1117
Geneva860
Lamar801
Fayette721
Clay692
Coosa601
Cleburne391
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Scattered Clouds
92° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 92°
Columbus
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 81°
Oxford
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 87°
Starkville
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 92°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather