COSACO chief to gov’t: Maintain EOs to curb COVID cases
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
Although Puerto Rico continues to experience a decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalization, the call to action continues to be to “keep the foot on the brakes” in order to achieve a low coronavirus positivity rate.
Community Health Coalition (COSACO by its Spanish acronym) Executive Director Danilo Trinidad Pérez told the STAR on Sunday that the island is going through a “landscape of changes” as a reduction of travel reception and executive orders that limit occupancy at establishments that do not request proof vaccination have helped decrease coronavirus cases among 20 to 55-year-old residents.
However, he said that when it comes to islanders over 55 and under 20, the data continues showing an increase in cases.
According to the Harvard University COVID-19 dashboard, created by statistician Rafael Irizarry, 15- to 19-year-old island residents showed a 5.5% positivity rate on Sept. 18, while on Sept. 11 the rate was at 4.7%. In regard to 40- to 64-year-old islanders, the positivity rate was at 6% on Sept. 18; on Sept. 11, it was at 5.8%.
Likewise, the COVID-19 positivity rate among 10- to 14-year-old residents was at 4.9% on Sept. 18, while on Sept. 11, the rate was at 4.2%.
“Cases sure are falling, but are they falling for everyone? No,” Trinidad Pérez said as he also told the newspaper that “the largest surge in COVID deaths during the third case spike has occurred in the west [of the island].”
According to the Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard, from Aug. 1 to Sept. 18, the Mayagüez region reported 133 fatalities due to the coronavirus; however, the Ponce region, located in the south of Puerto Rico, reported 19 fatalities on the same timeline.
“It’s a very regionalized phenomenon, especially in terms of deaths,” he said.
Even though Trinidad Pérez recognized the administration “has not taken the foot off the pedal despite spike drops in cases,” he urged better usage of informational resources available to prevent “lackadaisical policy implementation.”
“The government has the right idea, but they should not start stomping on the gas pedal, taking their foot off the brakes just because cases are dropping,” he said.
“Implementing policies that continue to curb infection rates is a good idea, but even if the distinct requirement of children [barring] under 12 years old [from attending mass gatherings] is not something I would exactly recommend, I cannot break away from the philosophy of ‘tackle as much as we can’ to make sure we can continue with the dropping of rates.”
In regard to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommending a booster shot only for 65+ residents and people with immunocompromised conditions, but not for the general population, the COSACO director supported the decision as, he said, the aforementioned sector represents those with waning immunity to the virus after being vaccinated eight months ago.
Meanwhile, he urged “the delivery of vaccines to areas that have not been able to receive them, which adds greater epidemiological value.”