Governor reacts to photos, videos of maskless beachgoers at close quarters
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced called on citizens Sunday to be responsible and wear a face mask at all times to stop the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 from spreading, as infection cases and hospitalizations on the island are on the rise.
During a press conference held after a meeting of the New Progressive Party directorate, a member of the press asked about what procedures her team will consider as confirmed COVID-19 cases are increasing and Vázquez is in the midst of a primary campaign to determine the party’s candidate for governor. She replied that her campaign events are being planned in such a way as to avoid the spread of the virus but, sometimes, gatherings of people are uncontrollable.
“I have always said it: face masks are compulsory. I think that we have proven it not only in Puerto Rico, but on a national level,” the governor said. “The activities that we have held have been from vehicles so we don’t give COVID-19 a chance to spread and infect citizens.
Sometimes, it is a bit difficult because people want contact; however, beyond that, the use of hand sanitizer and face masks is compulsory.”
Meanwhile, for the sake of making election officers and voters feel safe during elections, Vázquez told the press that the State Elections Commission will release an announcement urging islanders to wear a face mask during election day.
Meanwhile, regarding concerns as COVID-19 cases are on the rise, the governor said she always keeps up to date with the statistics to make sure the local healthcare system is not compromised. Likewise, she stated that hospitalizations and intensive care patients due to the virus are at 1 percent, while patients on ventilators are at 0.4 percent.
The said governor said the increase is part of the reopening of various economic activities, as such an effect was expected.
“I have said it from the beginning: every individual is responsible. We have already controlled it, we shut down when we had to, we protected the lives and health of every Puerto Rican,” she said. “I saw a video this [Sunday] morning from El Poblado de Boquerón [a beachside restaurant in Cabo Rojo], where people were all around and I saw only one person using a face mask. You know what? This is something that each of us must be responsible for. We can go out, we can spend time with loved ones, but you must wear a face mask.”
The island Health Department reported 1,846 confirmed cases and 6,070 possible cases of COVID-19 as of press time Sunday. In addition, 118 people have been hospitalized due to the virus, an increase of 18 from Saturday, with nine patients in intensive care, one more than Saturday, and five patients on ventilators.