Speed Reads

Hurricane Maria

Lawsuit seeks to compel release of Puerto Rico's hurricane death data

The Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS) on Friday filed suit to compel the territory's health department and demographic registry to make data on deaths in Puerto Rico publicly accessible on a daily basis.

PRIS is an independent government agency, and it originally requested "reliable, comparable, and accessible" mortality data from the other two agencies in April, arguing that "there is considerable public interest in knowing with certainty the number of deaths that occurred due to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, in a manner that is comparable to other similar disasters, for which it is necessary to conduct a case-level epidemiological study."

That request has gone unfulfilled, and PRIS opened the lawsuit following the Thursday publication of a Harvard study putting the Maria death toll around 4,500, some 70 times the official estimate of 64.

The 2018 hurricane season began June 1, but Puerto Rico is still grappling with the destruction of 2017's Hurricane Maria. Some 11,000 Puerto Ricans remain without power provided by the electrical grid, and local leaders say they feel unprepared for another major storm.