La Fortaleza is under quarantine: Health secretary tests positive for COVID-19

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

It was expected to be a busy day at La Fortaleza as Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced was about to hold meetings on Wednesday with members of her constitutional cabinet and Police Members Association President José Taboada de Jesús to discuss the new executive order slated to take effect Saturday in the Puerto Rico government’s ongoing effort to protect the public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, all meetings had to be postponed after island Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano tested positive for the coronavirus.

As the Star arrived at the executive mansion ahead of the meetings and other activities, all had been canceled. There was not much activity around the premises and the environment felt tense and gloomy with a hectic day ahead for both the government and members of the press.

González Feliciano said in a written statement that “after having been traveling for the past few days, I took the COVID-19 test, which came back positive.”

“Responsibly, I will be in isolation for the recommended time, according to the [recommendations of the Health Department’s] Office of Epidemiology. In addition, I offered information about the people with whom I spent time in the past few days so that the corresponding contact tracing begins,” González Feliciano said. “Although I will keep working remotely from my home as long as my health allows it, I will be out of any public activity. I thank everyone for the space to handle this health matter with the commitment to rejoin as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, La Fortaleza Spokesperson Mariana Cobián said in a written statement that upon becoming aware of the Health secretary’s positive COVID-19 test result, the governor canceled the meetings scheduled for Wednesday “as a precaution” and that the Palacio de Santa Catalina administration would be begin cleaning the establishment according to state protocol.

Noting that La Fortaleza Chief of Staff Antonio Pabón Batlle and Public Affairs Secretary Osvaldo Soto García would be in charge of the cabinet meeting, Cobián said the governor had tested negative for the coronavirus as of Tuesday after meeting with the Health secretary, describing Vázquez as “asymptomatic.”

“The First Executive arrived from a trip to New York last Thursday, when the molecular test for COVID-19 was carried out, with a negative result. Yesterday [Tuesday] at 4:20 p.m., she proceeded to carry out the follow-up test, which also came back negative,” Cobián said.

“However, as she met with González Feliciano yesterday [Tuesday] before taking the test, all meetings and activities that were scheduled for this week will be postponed or will be conducted virtually, as recommended by the [deputy Health] secretary, Dr. Iris Cardona.

Likewise, the test will be conducted again in five days.”

The Star requested a remote interview with the Health secretary regarding what was to be expected from the next executive order, with the current one expiring Friday. Michelle de la Cruz, a spokesperson for the Health Department, told the newspaper that González Feliciano would “not be taking interviews today.”

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