Puerto Rico on Thursday reported 485 new cases of the coronavirus, but officials say 355 of those correspond to April and early May and had not been shared with the government until now.
The announcement drew criticism from many who say the government lifted a two-month lockdown without taking into account those cases.
The day with the most identified cases—by sample collection date—was May 8, with 54 results. it is worth mentioning that May 8 was the day that the Health secretary himself, Lorenzo González, had estimated would be the peak day of contagion in Puerto Rico, even though when the day finally came, he then retracted and said that the peak occurred before that date.
On May 4, the government started allowing some businesses to reopen. Back then—and in subsequent press conferences—the governor affirmed that her administration has the data to make decisions on reactivating the economy.
The island’s Health Department said samples involving the cases in question were taken from March 31 to May 16 and were identified by health officials and laboratories. It was not immediately clear why the 355 cases were not identified earlier.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez signed an executive order last April that obliged laboratories, hospitals, and other health establishments to notify to the Health Department, "expeditiously... all outpatient and/or hospitalized cases that are suspected, probable, negative, or confirmed of COVID-19 ”.
According to the order, this information must be updated on a daily basis, "and must be received by the Health Department before 12:00 p.m. and corresponding to the information concerning the previous calendar day."
At the time of this writing, Puerto Rico has reported a total of more than 4,600 COVID-19 cases and more than 140 deaths.