• The Star Staff

Health secretary: 400 people attending inauguration OK

By John McPhaul


Island Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano said Wednesday in a radio interview that he does not see problems with 400 people attending the inauguration of Pedro Pierluisi as governor of Puerto Rico this Saturday.

“That’s a limited time, right. If we go to a [shopping] mall we are going to see today in the common area more than 40 people, 400 people walking around,” González Feliciano said of the planned number of guests at Pierluisi’s inauguration. “So, this is limited in terms of time.”

“Provisions are made in certain areas to guarantee [safety]. And definitely, in this process the tracking process is also done,” the Health chief added. “People are aware. All these people who come to this type of activity are educated, aware people who recognize symptoms.

Definitely, people who come here from other countries know that, indeed, they have to bring proof” that they tested negative for COVID-19.

The Health secretary also said declining numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in Puerto Rico indicate widespread compliance with public health guidelines.

“The numbers [of COVID-19 cases] tell us that the population [in Puerto Rico] has responded appropriately,” González Feliciano noted. “We have seen a disciplined population.”

“I believe that this executive order [imposing public health protocols to protect against virus transmission] will remain [in place], apart from the fact that the governor-elect [Pierluisi] can make some variation in the context of the swearing-in on January 2,” he added. “But the order continues until January 7.”

González Feliciano reiterated that he is encouraged by the downward trend in COVID-19 case numbers on the island.

“Today I can tell you that the numbers tell us that the population has responded to the use of the mask, the [physical] distancing,” the official said. “They have stopped having parties with many groups. We have seen a disciplined population, a reflection of that.”

At the same time, the Health secretary acknowledged that “we see deaths, right, for that part, it is not on a par with the use of medical resources, because we continue to see an average of 100 people dying in Puerto Rico.”

“True, the most affected group is still the group over 60 years of age, with comorbid conditions, and we would like to see, true, typically and progressively [a reduction in the mortality rate among this population], to the extent that we see vaccination,” González Feliciano said.

The Health Department on Wednesday reported 24 deaths from COVID-19, along with 66 confirmed cases, 25 probable cases and 18 additional suspected cases registered. In total there have been 1,484 reported deaths on the island attributable to the coronavirus.

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