Authorized statement of Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló:
(December 18, 2017 –La Fortaleza, San Juan) "As Governor, the safety and well-being are my priority. Both in preparation for the storms and their immediate aftermaths, my Administration has made the flow of information and transparency a priority.
I welcomed recent news analysis on the number of hurricane-related deaths, and that they may be higher than the official count certified to date. Those reports used the data provided by the Puerto Rico Demographic Registry, but the Government needs to investigative if the increase of the deaths is related directly or indirectly with Hurricane Maria.
In the Government, we cannot base any official fatality related to the hurricane count on statistical analysis. Every life is more than a number, and every death must have a name and vital information attached to it, as well as an accurate accounting of the facts related to their passing. That’s the law. A legal process of certification by a coroner or a doctor is necessary, and every family deserves that the case of their loved ones be looked at independently and thoroughly.
We also want the most accurate count and understanding of how people lost their lives to fully account for the impact of these storms, and to identify ways in which we can prevent fatalities in advance of future disasters.
That is why I have ordered the Puerto Rico Demographic Registry and the Department of Public Safety to conduct a thorough review and inspection of all deaths that have taken place since Hurricane Maria hit, regardless of what the death certificate says. We always expected that the number of hurricane-related deaths would increase as we received more factual information—not hearsay—and this review will ensure we are correctly counting everybody. I have also called for the creation of a panel of experts to look into our current certification processes so that we can improve them going forward.
This is about more than numbers, these are lives: real people, leaving behind loved ones and families. The Government needs to work with sensibility and certainty in the process of certifying a death related to the hurricane".