April 19, 2021

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Secretary of Health: "We are not going to close the country"

The Secretary of Health, Lorenzo González, acknowledged that the numbers of COVID-19 infections registered in the country in recent weeks -which have raised the positivity rate to 10% – will cause the country to continue for the next few weeks under the same restrictions imposed in the executive order that expires this Saturday, July 15.

This was stated by the official in an interview with Primera Hora, at the same time that he pointed out that the citizenship -particularly the young population and adults under 50 years – they have been undisciplined with the health and safety instructions that the government has implemented to try to slow down the spread of the virus.

“We are not going to close the country. That is not going to happen … but we are not going to accommodate more openings either. This is a matter of discipline. The use of a mask, physical distancing, hand washing and the use of sanitizer are not being complied with. The community has a social responsibility to take care of itself and we see how young people swarm the streets and it is these people who are causing community infections ", said the psychiatrist by profession.

" The decisions we have made have been for that Same reason: there is no discipline and we have seen an increase in positivity. In fact, a few days ago we were at 6.5% and now we see that it is at 10%. We knew that there is a correlation with the opening that occurred (at the beginning of the summer) but the lack of discipline of the population under 50 years of age is also great ”, he said, adding that 70% of the positive cases registered in the last three weeks correspond to that population.

This Tuesday's report from the Department of Health reported eight deaths from COVID-19, while 281 confirmed infections and 341 additional probable cases were registered. The total number of confirmed cases is 9,605 and that of probable cases rose to 13,798. Meanwhile, at the moment, there are about 439 people hospitalized and 287 fatalities reported.

“At some point it was said that the greatest growth in positives was in people under 29 years of age but now the increase in positives in recent weeks has been in people under 50 years of age. Those are the people who are taking the risk and failing in discipline. And what happens here is that this population, if it becomes infected, is asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, but it is those that approach the vulnerable population aged 60 years or older – who have the weakest immune system – and infect them. The issue is that these people get sick and die and we are corroborating it because 75% of the deaths in Pueto Rico are people over 60 and 65 years of age ", he said.

He commented that of the total of 287 fatalities, 83 % of the people were hospitalized and the other 10% received assistance in an emergency room. “But I want to say that we continue to have the capacity of beds for intensive care, ventilators, we have platelets, we have medicines… but still there are people dying because a vulnerable population is getting seriously ill. Therefore, I beg you, be disciplined: wear masks, keep your distance, use sanitizers ", he expressed.

" With these numbers, today we know that we cannot open any other section of the economy … we are concerned and we know the pain that this produces because the impact is great. But tomorrow all this will be discussed with the group of scientists from the University of Puerto Rico and Ponce; with the people of the Puerto Rico Health Trust and other Health professionals such as Dr. Fernando Cabanillas and the team that works with him; and the president of the College of Physicians, Víctor Ramos; among others, "he indicated.

The Secretary of Health said that according to the data analyzed in the agency, community transmission represents the highest percentage of positive cases for COVID-19.

" But, I go back and repeat, without having After discussing the issue with these groups, I can anticipate that these numbers do not allow for a reopening of any economic section, "he insisted.

The current executive order signed by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced establishes a curfew time of 10:00 from night to 5:00 in the morning and the closing of shops on Sundays.

In the case of restaurants, 50% of the maximum occupancy in dining rooms has to allow diners to physically distance 6 feet . In the event that this maximum occupancy does not allow physical distancing, the restaurant will have the obligation to reduce the occupancy until it can allow adequate physical distancing. On Sundays, the model of car service or delivery operations (“carry-out” and / or “delivery”) remains.

The restriction is maintained that from 7:00 pm, Monday to Saturday , the consumption, sale and sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in all businesses and establishments authorized by the current executive order. On Sundays, throughout the day, the consumption, sale and sale of alcoholic beverages in authorized stores is prohibited.

As for schools, as announced by the Department of Education, face-to-face classes will begin on September 17, 2020, both in private schools and in schools of the public system, if the control of the development of the virus allows it. "That continues the same due to the level of infections that we are seeing," González determined.

On the other hand, the use of common areas, understood as swimming pools, gyms, courts or any similar place, of condominiums, urbanizations or any other housing complex, subject or not to the Horizontal Property Regime, is prohibited. discourage all types of activity that lead to crowding of residents and visitors.

The beaches may be used for sporting purposes (including walking or swimming) and the spas will be closed on Sundays. The closure of the marinas also continues.

In terms of the tourism industry, lodgings, including short-term rentals (“Short Term Rentals”), that do not have a Hotel Identification Number from the Tourism Company of Puerto Rico (CTPR), have a total prohibition of opening and operating at all times, so their owners and tenants will be subject to the penalties imposed for non-compliance, as provided in this executive order.

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