President Trump is more correct than the media on Hurricane Maria death toll. President Trump tweeted that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was between 6 and 18 when he left the island and the media is now touting that the true number of dead is about 3,000. Where did this giant number come from and which number is correct? According to the Washington Post, both President Trump and the new reported number are correct. How?
Direct deaths cause by the hurricane was set at 64 for the better part of the past year. President Trump could be correct in his tweet that the number of dead was 18 max when he left.
For much of the past year, the government had formally acknowledged just 64 deaths from the hurricane, which ravaged much of the territory and destroyed critical infrastructure.
The government of Puerto Rico, not being satisfied with the death count, commissioned a study to see how many people may have died INDIRECTLY from the aftermath of the hurricane. The phrase the media is using is “2,975 excess deaths” in the 6 months after the hurricane hit.
Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico led to a spike in mortality across the U.S. territory, with an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in the six months after the storm made landfall in September 2017, according to a sweeping report from George Washington University released Tuesday.
The government of Puerto Rico on Tuesday embraced the GWU estimate as the official death toll, ranking Maria among the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
So the magic number of 3,000 or more accurately 2,975, is an entirely made up number. It’s merely an estimate of the number of people that “may have” died as a result of complications or lack of access to medicine or some other cause that could possibly be related to the hurricane.
The GWU report has a limitation: It does not specify how people died. It is a statistical study based on death records and expected mortality rates. The researchers said they hope to conduct a more detailed investigation in the future.
“We can come up with a hundred different hypotheses,” said Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health. She offered as an example the long-term lack of electricity, which prevented the use of some medical devices. “What we don’t have is the ability today to tell you these are the factors that caused this.”
In essence, President Trump is more correct than the media. 18 is a lot closer to 64 than 3,000. Fake news?