• The San Juan Daily Star

Governor: Next focus is facilitating COVID testing, possibly requiring booster

The governor said the health secretary requested 300,000 tests that have either been received or are about to arrive on the island.

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Tuesday that he would be seeking additional measures against COVID-19, this time to make it easier for people to be screened for the coronavirus.

“If a person takes the test, it is because he has had contact with someone and the [health] insurance has to cover it. I do not rule out that we are taking measures for those who have the Vital Plan to have the test covered regardless of the reason why it is obtained,” the governor said in a radio interview on NotiUno. “In the same way, I am sure that the insurance commissioner is considering the possibility of requiring that, in insurance plans -- that is, those that are not regulated by the federal government -- this requirement is also included.”

“We have to protect Puerto Rico and one way to protect Puerto Rico is for people to get tested and quickly detect if they have the virus and [if they do] then go into quarantine and not infect anyone else,” he added.

Pierluisi said Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López requested 300,000 tests that were received or are about to arrive on the island. He did not rule out opening additional centers to test for COVID-19.

“I do not rule out requiring the booster either and I am going to do it as I did this year,” the governor said. “I’m going to go by sectors of our economy. I will start with the highest priority and I will be monopolizing all sectors to require the booster.”

Pierluisi said he anticipated the complaints of some sectors as to the new Executive Order 2021-081, which establishes that all restaurants, bars and “chinchorros,” as well as other establishments where food and drink are consumed, must require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test performed within 48 hours before entering.

With the change, the 50 percent capacity alternative was eliminated for establishments that did not require evidence of vaccination or negative test, as previously reported by the STAR.

In addition, it is established that all passengers -- vaccinated or not vaccinated -- who travel to Puerto Rico by domestic flight must present a negative COVID-19 test carried out within 48 hours before arriving on the island. People who do not arrive with a negative test will have 48 hours to do it in Puerto Rico or they will be fined.

Likewise, unvaccinated people who travel to Puerto Rico on domestic flights must also quarantine for seven days, regardless of whether they arrive with or without a negative test result.

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