small business closed

Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC) Secretary Manuel Laboy said on Tuesday that the government foresees a "precautionary and gradual" reopening of Puerto Rico's economic sector.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced earlier today that she expects to present "within upcoming days" a plan to reinitiate economic activity in some areas. Laboy indicated that his agency is already in talks with the governor and her work team to achieve this. 

"We are having those interagency talks. Those recommendations will be important and at the time we will be announcing those measures, those next steps to that orderly and responsible reopening, but always protecting the health of the people of Puerto Rico," the DDEC secretary said at a televised press conference.

The lockdown that has been in effect since mid-March is expected to end on May 3, although there have been talks about another extension, up to June. Regardless, health experts have recommended a gradual business reopening to mitigate the risk of infection of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Some of the businesses that could remain under lockdown while other sectors resume operations are shopping centers, who are nonetheless ready to receive customers under "strict" health protocols.

Fewer Cases Than Previously Informed

As the government continues to debate how to reinstate the economy, the Health Department acknowledged that it repeat-counted multiple confirmed cases of infection, meaning that the actual number of positives is lower than previously informed.

While the agency had stated that there were 1,298 confirmed cases, the real number is 915. Of these, 736 are molecular tests and 189 are serological tests. 

During the press conference, Health Secretary Lorenzo González was asked if the revision would alter the agency's projections.

"After we see the data, we will potentially see a different projection," he responded, adding that the data will be reflected "within the following days" in the Health Department's online dashboard, which still reflects the debunked data.

González reported that yesterday he met with the director of the Statistics Institute, Orville Disdier, to purge the data of the cases recorded at the time.

Last week, the official accepted that there was duplication in some positive results, if the patient had undergone both tests. This, after a report from the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI by its Spanish acronym) that showed a mismatch in the numbers offered by the agency.

The Weekly Journal reporter Giovanna Garofalo contributed to this story.

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