Just hours after starting functions, the designated Secretary of the Department of Health, Carlos Mellado, together with the administration of Governor Pedro Pierluisi, draws up an action plan so that Puerto Rico can return to “normalcy”, begin the reopening of schools and have a “coherent” action against Covid-19.
In an interview with THE SPOKESMANMellado indicated that the plan is tied to efforts to increase the number of Covid-19 detection tests, the administration of vaccines and the treatment of infected patients.
Pierluisi – to begin with – ordered him to create, design, and run a program that would result in massive test administration.
In executive order 2021-001, signed on Saturday, it is established that the design and execution of this program must include a strategy to carry out tests in remote or difficult-to-access areas on the Island.
Mellado commented yesterday that the executive orders on social behavior will also vary according to the situation.
“The important thing here is that the order can last no less than a month, because in two weeks we will see the results and we will obtain the result that may or may not have had, and that is important to understand. The governor is doing it that way. Certainly, this four-year period we have many tools to be able to combat Covid-19, “said Mellado.
The governor has expressed that he considers that the government should make greater efforts in the task of carrying out tests and identifying infections with the deadly disease.
As reported, they are already working on strategies to combat Covid-19, and an executive order related to the pandemic is due to take effect on January 8. However, Pierluisi announced that he will not amend the executive order established by the now former governor Wanda Vázquez, which provides for a curfew and ‘lockdowns’ on Sundays. The president plans to announce the new executive order on social behavior in the middle of next week, he said.
The new government seeks to project that “all possible efforts are being made so that Puerto Rico can return to normalcy, so that businesses can operate within a margin of protection for diners and within the specific and punctual goal that the governor He has always said that it is to be able to reopen schools in an organized way ”, declared the doctor.
As part of the new government’s strategies, it is already planning how to impact the municipal islands of Vieques and Culebra to test for Covid-19, identify positive patients and administer the required treatment.
“Once we are there, look for people who have not had access to the phase 1A vaccine and be able to implement vaccination,” he said.
The local government has around 1,840 doses for antibody treatment, which was the one administered to the outgoing president of the United States, Donald Trump. Similarly, it is expected that the doses of the vaccines developed by Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna will begin to arrive in Puerto Rico on a more recurring basis.
“If we identify positive patients, we can treat them and flatten the hospitalization curve a little more, in addition to certainly the vaccine. This effort has to continue with an educational campaign for people, bringing a motivation that we want to reach that 70% desired by all to have what is called herd immunity, “said Mellado.
The doctor admitted that 70% is a challenge, but ensures that the executive order makes it easier for the process to be carried out, in addition to establishing alliances with the different agencies.
“I want to generate meetings with the different sectors of clinical laboratories to see how they can also help us. We know that there are laboratories in municipalities that are conducting the tests, but what we want is to amplify that amount of tests because what is called an epidemiological photo in Puerto Rico would be important, to know how many cases exist at the moment and one of the clear objectives is to be able to also treat patients, “he said.
Mellado said that he has been in communication with the governor to discuss these initiatives. He mentioned that he has participated in constant meetings with the governor in order to meet the established goal, which is to vaccinate, have fewer Covid-19 cases and greater access to tests.
“It is important that we have all these measures for us to be able to know which are the municipalities with high incidence and then to be able to establish with the Secretary of Education (Elba Aponte) a coherent plan to open schools, because one of our objectives is to return Puerto Rico to normal, but we need to make greater efforts, “said Mellado.
Health reported yesterday -on the third day of the year- 19 deaths from Covid-19, so the total number of deaths increased to 1,545 since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the total number of Covid-19 cases amounted to 134,782 between confirmed, probable and suspected, according to the most recent report issued by Health.
As for hospital data, the Health ‘dashboard’ showed yesterday that there were 415 hospitalized with Covid-19, of which 74 were in intensive care and 72 were connected to a ventilator.
Sign six orders
In keeping with the above, the governor signed six executive orders last Saturday, the first of them related to Covid-19.
Similarly, executive order 2021-002 orders the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Security (DSP) to create an agreement of understanding with the federal prosecutor for the prosecution of crimes of corruption and white collar, among others.
Similarly, Pierluisi signed Executive Order 2021-003 to enact measures of fiscal responsibility and control of expenditures and Executive Order 2021-004 to prohibit spending on official photos of the governor and heads of agencies in government facilities.
Two other executive orders establish the structure of the governor’s office and to designate the administrator of the Governor’s Office.