In response to a Thursday story about uncounted Hurricane María deaths from the Center for Investigative Journalism (first published in English by Latino USA), Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló told Latino USA senior producer Marlon Bishop at a Friday press gathering in San Juan that the government is making a “continuous effort” to investigate any deaths that are not part of the official storm-related death toll of 55 people.
Here is a transcript of the exchange between Latino USA and Rosselló:
LATINO USA: So in the past you said that if there were additional deaths that may be hurricane-related deaths, people should be them to your attention…
LATINO USA: I am wondering, this week el Centro de Periodismo Investigativo put out an investigation that they had found 49 other deaths they have documented as being related to the hurricane, including some with details that have been published. How will the government go about investigating these and other similar cases?
ROSSELLÓ: Well, this is a continuous effort. Of course, we welcome the information that the journalists stated. I think at the petition of the Secretary of the Department of Security, that information was not provided due to some issues. We’re willing to, of course, investigate everything. There really is no incentive to not say if a death was related or not related to the storm, We’ve been very open about this. We’ve even included deaths that are indirectly related to the storm. So any of that information is certainly welcomed, welcome that invitation, but in order for us to proceed, we need the information. We can’t just work on the basis of say, hey, there are 49 or there are 6 or there X number of bodies or people that haven’t been quantified, as having died because of the storm. We actually need a way to proceed because otherwise it’s just a number.
Rosselló’s comments to Latino USA about the death toll happened after he addressed the Puerto Rico Hospital Association Convention.