Puerto Rico

Updated 12:43 p.m. ET

Perhaps 5,000 people died in Puerto Rico in 2017 for reasons related to September's Hurricane Maria, according to a study that dismisses the official death toll of 64 as "a substantial underestimate."

A research team led by scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health didn't simply attempt to count dead bodies in the wake of the powerful storm. Instead, they surveyed randomly chosen households and asked the occupants about their experiences.

Straddled across Ausberto Maldonado's backyard in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, a suburb of San Juan, is a nagging reminder of Hurricane Maria's destructive power.

"See, that tree broke off that branch, which is as thick as a tree — and now it's in my yard," says Maldonado, a 65-year-old retiree.

Rats scurry from under the downed tree, preventing Maldonado from hanging his laundry. To get the tree removed, he must show up in person at a local government office. But the diabetic ulcers on his feet make it painful to walk.

Nationwide IV Bag Shortage Hits Midwestern Hospitals

Jan 23, 2018
Master Sgt. Val Gemp / US Air Force

It’s been five months since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and wiped out houses, roads and the power grid, as well as factories that make prescription drugs and medical devices.

SOS: Puerto Rico Is Losing Doctors, Leaving Patients Stranded

Mar 14, 2016

Puerto Rico is losing people. Due to a decade-long recession, more than 50,000 residents leave the U.S. territory each year--most for jobs and new lives on the mainland. This issue is especially affecting healthcare, where it's estimated that at least one doctor leaves Puerto Rico every day.