Despite the dissolution of the La Fortaleza medical advisory group in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, some 24 doctors and health workers from Ponce pledged to continue creating strategies to prevent and combat the virus in the region.
This is possible through the Health Task Force of the South, which today presented its plan to tackle the risks that citizens may have when inserting themselves into their daily activities, as the flexibility of various sectors continues.
According to the analysis of metrics presented by the epidemiologist Melissa Marzán, the southern zone remains with a level of positivity between 4% and 7%, a situation that keeps this group of volunteers in constant monitoring until the health emergency normalizes.
“For Ponce, from September 2 to 15, we had 24 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, so in terms of risk, that puts us at a medium level. While the level of positivity during the first two weeks of September, the Municipal System of Cases and Contact Tracing estimates it at 4%, with data from the Trust (of Sciences, Technology and Research of Puerto Rico) they estimate it at 7%; so we are between a medium and high level ”, explained the epidemiologist and Assistant Professor of the Public Health Program at Ponce Health Sciences University.
“The level at which we find ourselves implies that security measures are taken and we avoid crowds in closed spaces. So the discussion as a country must revolve around that, if we want to open schools and if we want to maintain a healthy place in the community, we would have to be at a low level in terms of infections for a period of no less than 30 consecutive days, “he added Marzán at a press conference.
On the other hand, he stressed that, according to the analysis of the advisory group, the number of COVID-19 tests administered in Puerto Rico must be increased, which currently number between 100 and 120 tests per 100,000 inhabitants.
“The goal should be to reach 150 tests per 100,000 inhabitants and I think that is where we should focus and as a team, we discuss the best strategies with the resources we have available to achieve these goals. The north here is that here we can control a low level of risk, as long as we have available some treatment or a vaccine, “he said.
On the other hand, the voluntary integration of these health specialists and the hospital institutions in the area have allowed the agility with which cases are processed in the Ponce region, where some 1,162 cases have been reported between suspected and confirmed, in addition to about 35 deaths.
These data represent a lower contagion than that reported in other regions of the country that today woke up with 19 deaths; which is the highest number of deaths reported by the Department of Health in its daily report.
For Dr. Gabriel Martínez, a specialist in infectious diseases and a member of the southern medical team, the key to ensuring that the area has fewer deaths from coronavirus has been both the integration of specialists and the participation of the four Ponce hospitals and the Health Center 330.
“It is a very uphill task to be able to integrate both professional and, mainly, hospital structures that are independent and private, and yet the collaboration has been such that we have been able to integrate efforts and perhaps standardize the way in which We try to manage patients to be able to vacate spaces and keep hospitals as safe in the COVID part as in the non-COVID part “, revealed the doctor.
“Among the most important things is the speeding up of the tests, which have allowed the Municipality of Ponce with the help of the task force, to be able to locate these cases. In addition to the communication that exists between the epidemiologist of the Municipality with the task force that keeps us informed of all the cases in the region and the way in which we communicate with other municipalities; that part of the tracking-monitoring at the municipality level ”, stated Martínez, highlighting that the alliance between members of the southern medical team began in 2009 with the AH1N1 pandemic.
For her part, Mayor María “Mayita” Meléndez Altieri mentioned the work they have carried out at the municipal level by guiding business owners, continuing education to communities, and complying with the executive orders of Governor Wanda Vázquez, who they have become municipal ordinances.
“We have done many preventive things, there have been over 100 fines, 11 arrests and three closed businesses. In fact, the fines for not wearing the mask in Ponce are $ 5,000. Here is a group of 25 municipal employees who go out in different vehicle units every day to guide each business ”, he concluded.