Health secretary does not rule out total closure because of COVID-19

By John McPhaul

Island Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano does not rule out a return to total shutdown in the next executive order from Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced if COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

“It’s good to see that this week we don’t have the numbers we reported last week in terms of deaths, of which we had 18 one day, 12 another day, 11 another day,” González Feliciano said Tuesday in a radio interview. “We had more than 40 deaths reported in three days -- that did worry us.”

González Feliciano said that so far this week, COVID-19-related deaths in Puerto Rico have risen from 608 to 613. On Tuesday, 88 confirmed cases and 36 additional probable cases of COVID-19 were reported.

The Health chief indicated that there has been an increase in diagnosed cases of COVID-19. In total, confirmed cases have reached 20,399 and probable cases 22,197.

Regarding whether or not he would recommend a change in the executive order, González Feliciano said “the numbers [of cases] put us on an orange alert, which is already much more restrictive than what we started in this executive order,” which is in force until on Friday, Oct. 2.

“If we continue to see these numbers [of infections], we could reach a critical level, which would be a ‘lockdown,’ total closure,” he said.

The Health secretary announced that at the end of this week he will meet with his work team and then “give recommendations to the governor for the next executive order.”

Confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on the island total 443 and probable deaths from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus remain at 170, so the total number of deaths is 613.

On Tuesday, there were 369 people hospitalized, of which 63 are in intensive care, one of them a pediatric patient, and 42 patients on a ventilator, one of them a minor.

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