Chief of staff: Governor considering stricter measures amid COVID-19 uptick

Says new EO will be announced before weekend

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

With Puerto Rico facing a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, La Fortaleza Chief of Staff Noelia García Bardales said Tuesday that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia is contemplating new safety measures in the next executive order to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

García Bardales said the governor remains alert to any statistical changes in the COVID-19 data provided daily by the Puerto Rico Health Department as he considers possible adjustments in the next executive order. The current order expires next Monday.

No changes were announced during the press conference held at La Fortaleza. However, when asked if there will be changes in the next executive order, García Bardales replied that “it is certainly being evaluated.”

“The governor will be speaking soon. He has his ear to the ground,” she said, pointing out that Pierluisi is aware of the case and hospitalization increases.

“He is analyzing the statistics and we certainly have to call for caution first,” the chief of staff said. “The fact that we have a million people vaccinated does not change the COVID-19 prescription; the prescription is still distancing, [wearing a] face mask and strengthening vaccine campaigns.”

“We have to be individually more responsible,” García Bardales added. “It is important that we understand that there may be several [coronavirus] variants already in Puerto Rico.”

On Monday, the STAR reported that Health Secretary-designate Carlos Mellado López said measures such as total lockdowns, shutting down schools, establishing greater capacity restrictions or imposing restrictions on alcohol consumption were not under consideration to mitigate the increase in COVID-19 cases.

At press time Tuesday, the Department of Health had reported five deaths from COVID-19, while 91 confirmed, 116 probable and 76 additional suspected cases were recorded from samples taken from March 21 until April 4.

As for hospitalizations, 304 people were hospitalized, 20 more than in Monday’s report and 47 more than in Sunday’s report.

The hospitalization number is the highest the island has registered since January.

Among that number are 269 adult patients, 23 more than the previous day, and 35 pediatric cases, three fewer than in Monday’s report.

Sixty-one adult patients are under intensive care, five more than the previous day, along with two pediatric cases.

There were 37 adult patients on ventilators, six more than in Monday’s report.

In total, a reported 2,136 people have died from COVID-19 in Puerto Rico since the pandemic began.

The report of deaths may vary as registrations and codifications of the causes of death are processed, which can take up to five days.

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