Reality Check: Is President Trump’s Puerto Rico Tweet Accurate?

14 September, 2018, 06:07 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Burke and Chris Rayner load generators as people buy supplies at The Home Depot on Monday Sept. 10 2018 in Wilmington N.C

CNN host Jake Tapper and his Thursday political panel railed against President Donald Trump for the claim 3,000 people didn't die in Puerto Rico.

Every time we switch our focus off the island itself and onto Trump's political rhetoric about the island, we do a disservice to the people of Puerto Rico. The university study accounted for Puerto Ricans who succumbed to the stifling heat and other aftereffects of the storm and had not been previously counted in official figures. He then went on to accuse Democrats of making up the number so that he would look bad. As time went by, it did not go up by that much.

Trump then added that the high death toll was a result of Democrats trying to make him look bad.

George Washington University's Milken Institute of Public Health, working with the University of Puerto Rico, conducted a study of "excess mortality" in the aftermath of Maria: i.e., the number of people who actually died beyond the number that would normally have been expected to die in that period.

According to the Washington Post, some research indicates that the actual death toll of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is around 4,000.

The Wisconsin Republican says he has "no reason to dispute" a study that found almost 3,000 people on the island died from Hurricane Maria past year. Puerto Rico upped its official estimate to 1,427 in a July draft report.

Thursday, Stewart's spokeswoman, Daryn Frischknecht, said the congressman "doesn't have anything to add to the conversation" about the president's assessment of the death toll.

Trump has previously said his administration's handling of the storms was "an incredible unsung success".

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz called the president's comments "delusional, paranoid and unhinged from any sense of reality".

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Flattened homes on the island of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. We've seen conflicting information associated with the process of coming up with a realistic accounting of how many people died during and after the storm.

"President Trump was responding to the liberal media and the San Juan mayor who sadly have tried to exploit the devastation by pushing out a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations", White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

"I disagree with @POTUS- an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. (Ricardo) Rosselló agreed", Gov. Rick Scott tweeted. And New Orleans was far more accessible than the mountainous island of Puerto Rico.

It's a story I've been working on for weeks, along with several others, ahead of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria making landfall on September 20, 2017. This is more fake news propagated by anti-Trump activists.

The president has not provided any evidence for his claim that Democrats inflated the number and has been criticized on both the right and the left for it.

Trump's controversial remarks sparked a rare bipartisan backlash, with even some members of his own party echoing the condemnation from Democratic opposition leaders.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines say that these indirect deaths should be counted in disaster totals, but the GWU report found that "many physicians were not oriented in the appropriate certification protocol" and that "most physicians have no formal training in completing a death certificate and thus are not aware of appropriate death certification practices".

"How stupid, how tone deaf, how surreal, how insensitive, how offensive, how offensive to the relatives of the 3,000 people who died in Puerto Rico!" she said passionately.

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