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Puerto Rico just had its “worst moment” for COVID-19

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – During the epidemic, Dr. Victor Ramos, a pediatrician, did not see more than two COVID-19 patients admitted to the San Jorge Children’s Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rica. he works nights. When he left after one of the shifts a few days ago, the number of pediatric patients in the hospital reached 10.

“We have never seen it,” he said.

Some children become dehydrated after the coronavirus gave them a high fever, Ramos said, but others have an inflammatory syndrome that some children suffer from COVID-19. He said one of the children hospitalized with severe COVID was only 3 months old.

The worst coronavirus outbreak in Puerto Rico in the last five weeks. Explosive growth of cases exceeding the records recorded in December. Only this week did the numbers stop rising, giving the area its first pause since the start of the wave in mid-March.

According to experts, the rise was due to a combination of factors, including the emergence of variants that may have made the virus more contagious when people who were tired of staying home and hoping for vaccines began to leave their guards and return to work or shopping. և dining room inside. Spring tourists flocked to the spring break season. People gathered to celebrate Holy Week, a time when many were out of work.

More about the COVID-19 epidemic

“The government eased the restrictions in January-February. “It completely opened up the economy,” said Luis Javier Hernandez Ortiz, of Vilalba in southern Puerto Rico. “It simply came to our notice then. “Now the virus has the potential to spread everywhere.”

The results were shocking. At the beginning of April, the island was moving from an average of about 200 new cases per day to about 800, according to the New York Times database. In the week before April 13, more than 7,100 cases were detected, a record. In the two-week period of this month, the number of cases increased by a remarkable 151%. According to the Puerto Rican Department of Health, the positive rate reached its peak of about 14%.

In response, scientists and doctors like Ramos, who is president of the Puerto Rico College of Physicians and Surgeons, begged the public to back the rules of disguise and social exclusion, urging elected officials to tighten epidemic restrictions. Ramos said hospitals still have the capacity for beds, but doctors and nurses have lost weight. Over the years, Puerto Rico has lost many medical professionals due to better-paying jobs in the states, leaving few of them with the island virus.

“Everyone is exhausted,” Ramos said.

Jorge Manuel Rivera, 43, saw it in person. His wife has been in a San Juan hospital since late March. He does not have COVID-19 – he underwent surgery, was in the intensive care unit, was outside of it, but the facility was so overcrowded with COVID patients that there was not always room for him in the MNS, he said.

“You can say they are very, very overwhelmed,” he said.

Two weeks ago, Rivera tested positive for coronavirus and lost its sense of smell.

“There are too many people who are not aware of what happened,” he said. “You can read the numbers and the statistics, but you do not understand it if you are not there.”

This month, the administration of Governor Pedro Pierluisi suspended individual school appointments due to a wave of the virus. Officials increased the night curfew from midnight to 10pm – the only blanket curfew in any state or region – to reduce internal capacity for և restaurants և businesses by 30% to 50%. Some mayors have adopted additional restrictions, including the closure of beaches. Masks remain mandatory in public places throughout the island.

Starting April 28, travelers who fail to show a COVID-19 negative test on arrival will be fined $ 300 if they fail to submit a test within 48 hours. (Previous rules allowed travelers to be isolated for 10 days if they failed a negative test. Some were arrested for violating quarantine orders.)

Types of mistreatment of tourists by tourists. Mask vaccinations, locally crowded places, refusing to pay attention to the requirements of the epidemic rules, have become regular headlines. But the tracking of the connection suggests that many of the new infections came not directly from tourists but from Puerto Ricans who are going to work in person, restaurants and shops, say public health experts.

Pierluis, who took office in January, resisted pressure from opposition lawmakers to a tougher blockade proposed by his own coalition of experts. The coalition says shopping malls and restaurants are insignificant, signaling that they may be temporarily closed. At a news conference this week, the governor said the latest steps he had taken were working, but needed more time to act fully.

“The situation is stabilizing,” he said. “There has to be a very measured, very prudent approach to these kinds of decisions.”

His predecessor, Wanda Vazquez, enforced strict rules at the beginning of the epidemic, ordering the country’s first blockade. It helped Puerto Rico avoid a sharp rise in cases for many months, but it also cost the economy dearly. Long queues have formed for unemployment benefits.

The latest outbreak could be managed in a more gradual manner, Pierluis said, citing the availability of virus treatment, communication tracking systems in Puerto Rican municipalities, and the availability of vaccines.

Some 1.65 million people, about 31 percent of the population, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Times, based on statistics from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Puerto Rico Secretary of Health Dr. Carlos Melado Lopez said in an interview that the Department of Health estimated that number was actually higher at about 2.2 million people.

But one public health message, the other may be dumb, beware of the rapidly spreading virus, said Monica Felicch-Moger, communications director at Ciencia Puerto Rico, a nonprofit group that supports scientists and their research.

“So much public attention was focused on vaccines,” he said. “Once you stop hearing about all the cases, you will stop hearing about the importance of preventing the infection. The numbers have been worrying for more than a month, epidemiologists have been sounding the alarm, “no one was paying attention.”

Test levels have plummeted to double in recent weeks, Melado said. The Department of Health is working to send more tests directly to primary care physicians to check on people in free offices.

Puerto Rican private laboratories outside of public testing sites still require a doctor to order a gold standard polymerase chain reaction test to detect the coronavirus, creating a barrier for vulnerable populations to find out if they are infected, said Melissa Marz University Public Health Researcher դ Associate Professor of Public Health.

“The situation has worsened so much in the last few weeks,” he said. “It could be the worst moment we’ve had this year.”

His team uses a federal grant to train community members to help people overcome the barriers to testing and vaccinations. One of them is Sister Faustina Rodriguez, a monk whose community organization has identified elderly people living alone or in poor conditions in rural areas near southern Puerto Rico in need of basic assistance such as masks and hand soap.

“We went to a woman’s house, she just had the same mask she had been wearing since last year,” Faustina said.

He also has resistance when wearing a mask, when testing. “Some people think it will hurt, it will raise the nose,” he said.

“They do not believe in vaccines, և son onson և John onson situation has made it worse,” said Faustina, referring to the discontinuation of the vaccine to see if it causes blood clots. “Or they say, ‘Why should I get vaccinated if I can still catch it or have severe side effects?’ (He tells them he got shot; he felt good.)

Luca Santana Benitez, 52, who lives in a public housing complex in San Juan and leads a non-profit group to feed her neighbors, contracted the coronavirus last year, as did her son and husband. He described it as “bad, bad, bad, bad; I spent a week in sweat, fever and pain. I couldn’t even take a bath. “

He did not initially want to be vaccinated, although the vaccine was promoted in his community. But she decided to shoot so she could visit her children: grandchildren living in Florida, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

“I am a responsible grandmother,” said Santana.

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