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Health chief: Forcing people to protect themselves from disease is not a function of gov’t


“At the time we are going to [relax pandemic restrictions], we have to have individual responsibility,” Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López said.

By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


It is not the function of the government to force people to protect themselves from diseases, Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López said Thursday in response to questions about the governor relaxing COVID-19 measures when he signs a new executive order later this month.


Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Monday that he would relax restrictions in his next executive orders, as a consequence of the drop in the positivity of COVID-19 cases and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control that the use of masks should be voluntary and not compulsory.


“At the time we are going to do it, we have to have individual responsibility,” Mellado López told the press. “If you know that you are going to go to a crowded place, and you are 65 years old and do not have a vaccine, put on the mask. All things considered, if you have the three vaccines, but at that moment you feel bad, do not go to the place. The government should not be forcing people because there is an individual responsibility.”


The Health secretary did not volunteer his opinion on whether the mandatory use of masks should be eliminated, because, he said, it is up to the governor to announce his decision as soon as the executive orders expire later this month. However, he insisted that people have to learn to live with COVID-19.


“Learning to live with COVID means getting vaccinated and following the recommendations,” Mellado López said. “The time will come when this has to end and we have to be more flexible. But when is the time? That will be seen based on the statistics and the results that we have.”

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