“There’s a lot of issues with numbers being all over the place,” he said…
(Laura King, Los Angeles Times) FEMA director William “Brock” Long echoed President Donald Trump in casting doubt on an independent study by George Washington University researchers released in late August that formed the basis for the estimated toll of 2,975 that has been accepted by Puerto Rico’s government.
Earlier estimates of Hurricane Maria-related deaths were far lower for the island of about 3.3 million people, a United States territory where residents are U.S. citizens at birth. Hurricane Maria hit the island Sept. 20, 2017.
Long said on “Fox News Sunday” that it was “hard to tell what’s accurate” regarding the death toll.
“There’s a lot of issues with numbers being all over the place,” he said.
Trump claimed last week on Twitter that the Puerto Rico toll was inflated by Democrats “in order to make me look as bad as possible.”
Long avoided comment on the particulars of that claim, but suggested that indirect deaths sometimes skewed record-keeping.
The study by the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health compared the island’s death rates in previous years with those in the six months after the storm hit, when there was prolonged loss of power and access to medical treatment.
“You might see more deaths indirectly as time goes on,” Long said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
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