Puerto Rico reverting some reopening measures as COVID-19 cases rise
In the wake of losing her party’s primary, Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez (R, NPP) has recently implemented stricter guidelines in order to mitigate the recent spikes of coronavirus that have been occurring across Puerto Rico. Vázquez has imposed a 24-hour lockdown on Sundays, combined with the already in place curfew from 10:00 pm – 5:00 am, Monday to Saturday, hoping to see decreases in average numbers with stricter quarantine measures. Vázquez announced these measures will go into effect on Saturday, and will remain in place until September 11, saying that “we have to adjust to a new reality”, indicating that these spikes in cases are the result of “careless” people.
While face mask usage has been mandatory and will continue to remain mandatory, these additional quarantine and lockdown measures are intended to prevent unnecessary gatherings and limit trips outside the house to only essential business. Gyms, theaters, and bars will remain closed, whereas restaurants will remain open, but with seating limited to 25% capacity. Beaches will remain open to only those who are utilizing them for exercise, such as running and surfing, and businesses, malls, and banks will only be open with 25% capacity. Residents will be allowed to leave their homes on Sundays only for activitiessuch as grocery shopping, medical appointments, or necessary trips to pharmacies. If a business does not comply with these guidelines, they will be required to shut their doors for a month.
This announcement was welcomed by health experts, but some have said that these should have been implemented earlier as cases continue to rise. With a population of 3.2 million people, Puerto Rico has reported 12,452 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 356 deaths, including a 19-year-old woman. At least 362 people are hospitalized, however, these hospitalizations do not report any worrying numbers of individuals in intensive care units or on respirators, according to Dr. José Rodríguez Orengo with the Puerto Rico Public Health Trust. Rodríguez said this is mainly due to the fact that 80 percent of those who have been infected are younger than 60, indicating that those younger individuals have needed less intense and invasive care in treatment.
Rodríguez has also blamed the spike in Puerto Rico’s COVID-19 cases on ‘careless’ people, particularly those coming from the United States to visit family and friends, but also a lack of a strong contact tracing system, and a weak educational campaign on how to prevent coronavirus. He indicated that “at one point, we had the virus under control. Now the virus has us under control”.
These spikes in cases have also had Vázquez state that still more information is needed in order to determine whether classes at public schools will start in-person in mid-September as they are scheduled to. These new restrictions may be the impetus for the drop in coronavirus cases that Puerto Rico needs, as well as providing more information for Vázquez to make a decision about returning schools to in-person learning this fall.