Trump turns back to Maria, falsely says Dems inflated toll


Thursday morning on Twitter, he disputed that 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria one year ago.

In a pair of tweets, Trump insisted that "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico". Full power was restored in Puerto Rico following last year's storm only last month.

Hurricane Maria killed 2,975 people in Puerto Rico, a long-awaited independent investigation by George Washington University into the 2017 storm concluded last month.

Echoing Cruz's condemnation of Trump's tweets, Democratic lawmakers also expressed outrage that the president would attempt to downplay the number of people who died as a result of a natural disaster and USA government neglect. "As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000", Trump tweeted.

Last year, as hurricanes Irma and Maria upended the lives of more than 3 million American citizens in Puerto Rico, mainland news sources, ours included, were reporting on Trump's tweets about NFL players not standing during the national anthem. The death toll in Puerto Rico had been officially recorded as 64 for almost a year, despite convincing evidence that the figure was too low because official death certificates had failed to take into account the long-range impacts of the storm. That's actually lower than the estimate published by Harvard researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine - 4,645 - but it still puts Maria's death toll on a par with 9/11, whose 17th anniversary we just commemorated. While Cora acknowledged the government helped Puerto Rico, he questioned whether it did enough. In fact, the President has instead sought praise for his handling of Hurricane Maria, saying earlier this week that it was "an incredible, unsung success".

That prompted an angry response from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who tweeted, "Success?"

"We are scientists. We are public health people". In response, representatives from the GWU Milken Institute School of Public Health said they stand by their science, and "are confident that the number - 2,975 - is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date".

The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, isn't even a Democrat - he's a member of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.

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At least one other Republican said he agreed with Trump that Democrats were taking advantage of natural disasters for political gain.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines say that these indirect deaths should be counted in disaster totals, but the GWU report found that "many physicians were not oriented in the appropriate certification protocol" and that "most physicians have no formal training in completing a death certificate and thus are not aware of appropriate death certification practices".

Trump's new fury threatened to distract from massive efforts to respond to Hurricane Florence.

"The aftereffects, people don't talk about that", he said.

The president has not provided any evidence for his claim that Democrats inflated the number and has been criticized on both the right and the left for it.

In January, Cora led a Red Sox delegation to Puerto Rico to distribute aid.

"But the President continues to refuse to acknowledge his responsibility, and the problem is that if he didn't acknowledge it in Puerto Rico, God bless the people of SC and the people of North Carolina", Cruz said. The revision was based on the findings of a George Washington University study.