Unemployment Claims Rise to Nearly 66,000 in Puerto Rico
Gov’t Response Update on Day First Puerto Rican on Island Dies of COVID-19
SAN JUAN — Since March 16, the number of unemployment claims filed in Puerto Rico reached 65,909 as of Thursday, the la reflecting the effect that the measures to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic are having on the island’s economy.
The information is derived from the daily report published by the Office of Public Affairs at La Fortaleza, Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced’s official residence. The number represents 43,660 more people filing between Tuesday and Thursday this week.
In the past few days, the closure of several companies and hotels has been reported due to the lack of customers, who have been ordered to stay home to avoid catching COVID-19.
This figure can be expected to continue rising as the federal legislation to help families affected by the pandemic allows self-employed workers to claim unemployment benefits.
As of Friday, 79 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Puerto Rico from the 932 tests carried out to date. A third person died on the island from the disease, the first Puerto Rican. Reportedly, the Health Department received the test results of the 48-year-old woman, who succumbed to the potentially lethal respiratory virus while hospitalized in the northwestern part of the island.
“In accordance with the trend that this pandemic exhibits on the island, in addition to the projections made by the task force, the entire government apparatus has moved to identify ways to anticipate the impact that this will definitely have on our lives,” Public Affairs Secretary Osvaldo Soto García said in a release with government-response updates.
On Thursday, the governor revealed new measures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19, after receiving the recommendations of the panel of doctors who make up her administration’s coronavirus task force.
“By accepting our recommendations, the governor probably made the island the jurisdiction or territory of the United States with the greatest probability of facing this pandemic. Social distancing continues to be an indispensable mechanism at this stage. At the same time, we continue to clear the obstacles of accessibility to the tests; these measures turn out to be the correct ones,” general coordinator Dr. Segundo Rivera said.
The data update, as published by the government, follows:
Department of Public Safety
o Tests are already being carried out on the officers of the Rincón Police Station who were in contact with the officer whose wife died from COVID-19 in Aguadilla.
At 11:00 am
o 434 arrests for violation of Executive Order (EO)-2020-023
o 691 complaints for violation of EO-2020-023
Bureau of Forensic Sciences (CF)
o Today there will be a postmortem COVID-19 test administered: 73-year-old woman, resident of the metropolitan area. She passed away at home. She had no pre-existing conditions. Symptomatology of possible COVID-19.
o At the moment, all the samples taken by NCF have come back negative for COVID-19
Fire Department Bureau
o The Fire Department Bureau is conducting a campaign to advise in how to handle detergents and disinfectant products safely and avoid health complications, at a time when many people use them to maintain proper hygiene and avoid catching Covid-19 related infections.
Emergency and Disaster Management Bureau
o The coordination of escorts continues in the distribution of alcohol donated by the Serrallés Distillery. Today they are being delivered in 6 municipal entities, 2 state entities and 10 hospital entities. As of yesterday, over 32,000 gallons of alcohol had been delivered. Forty-seven percent of these donations are to government agencies and municipalities; 39% to hospitals; and 14% to clinics, laboratories, hospices, among others.
Puerto Rico National Guard
o Today there was a second training for medical students who joined the efforts of the National Guard at airports. With this new group, about 80 fourth-year medical students have joined the effort.
At 6:00 a.m. today
o 36,803 passengers had been evaluated and their temperatures taken
o 110 passengers were sent to the triage area
o 28 passengers were administered a COVID-19 test, sent home under the supervision of the Department of Health and their GP
o 89 passengers were sent to their residences for home isolation
o 0 passengers were sent to the hospital
Maritime Port Authority
o Between 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. yesterday, a tourist boat (private yacht) entered and a tourist boat (private yacht) left. During the same period, 2 cargo vessels, 1 tanker and 1 tourism vessel remained in the bay. The crew did not disembark during their stay in Puerto Rico.
Maritime Transportation Authority
o Yesterday, 152 screening tests were carried out on passengers (residents) transporting themselves between Ceiba and the island-municipalities, for a total of 595.
Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration (ASES)
o Issued a directive to all Insurers or managed care organizations to expedite prompt payment and advance payment requests to hospitals for the crisis these institutions are experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
o MCOs must also accelerate the payment of invoices (claims or accounts payable) so that the volume of inventory is reduced (aging).
o These measures are taken due to understanding how imperative it is to look for alternatives to provide them with cash flow as soon as possible, so that hospitals continue to operate with the necessary personnel.
o Today $21.5 million in reimbursement payments were disbursed to 27,809 taxpayers.
o Starting Monday, March 30, and until May 1, 2020, individuals who are self-employed may request the economic incentive of $500 announced by the governor, through their account in the Unified Internal Revenue System (SURI).
o This will only apply to individuals who carry out an industry or business on their own and are registered in SURI as merchants, with their Merchant Registration Certificate valid as of March 15, 2020.
o More than 4,421 commercial locations have been impacted to inspect compliance with the Executive Order. Ten of these have been advised with a first notice. The first alcoholic beverage license was suspended at an establishment in the Condado area and last Monday, Internal Revenue agents confiscated all alcoholic beverages from the premises.
o The Taxpayer Service area has attended 2,265 cases through the SURI message system.
o Continued processing of Income Tax forms and disbursement in reimbursement payments.
o 1,235 backpacks with hygiene and first aid kits were distributed, which included information with the telephone number of the Department of Health so that they could communicate in case of a need related to their health.
o The waiver of the PAN [Nutritional Assistance Program] of the Federal Nutrition Service (FNS) was obtained so that the cases do not have to be reviewed until June 2020 and the eligibility of the participants is not rejected, so the participants DO NOT have to go to local offices for these purposes (they remain closed until April 13).
o A waiver was obtained so that the resources destined for Family Markets (suspended until further notice) are released in April and participants can use the entire benefit without restrictions to buy food in supermarkets. The technical part of benefit liberalization is being coordinated with Evertec.
Education Department (DE)
o The DE website records the entry of more than 1,160,000 visits in the first two weeks. On this platform are online modules that parents or guardians can download and answer with their children, without the need to print them.
o The EduPR application registers more than 284,000 downloads and almost 4,000 teachers and 3,700 parents or guardians have been trained.
o With the extension of the social isolation ordered by the governor until April 12, the DE works on new academic offerings for students, which will be announced to school communities in the coming days. Those offerings will also include the special education population.
Department of Labor
o The Department of Labor and Human Resources is receiving claims for Unemployment Benefit Insurance. So far, it has received a total of 65,909 new unemployment claims since March 16, 2020.
Department of State
Currently, the State Department is working and following up on the following cases:
o Young people stranded in Egypt, pending an airplane that will leave Egypt for Madrid or the United States.
o Puerto Rican couple on the Zaandam cruiseship, which is located near the Panama Canal, in the direction of Ft. Lauderdale.
o Minor in Bermuda awaiting repatriation flight on April 4.
o Family in Ecuador that is already in Miami.
o Minor in Germany awaiting Condor flight in April.
o Exchange students in Salamanca, Spain waiting for a possible American Airlines flight.
o Guatemalan resident in the Dominican Republic, who is in Puerto Rico, pending charter flight.
o Colombian exchange student in Puerto Rico with J1 visa.
o Immigrants in Puerto Rico and hospital care.
o Puerto Ricans in Portugal, already back in Puerto Rico.
o Follow-up work in conjunction with the office of the Resident Commissioner, Jenniffer González, on the status and steps to follow, of cases pending return to Puerto Rico.
Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA)
o Today 1,067 patients participating in our services were contacted for follow-up and telephone support.
o PAS Line:
Total calls: 1,472
42 people in isolation due to risk or resulting positive
o Interventions at the LMM airport
Triage area: 7
First responders: 27
Department of Natural and Environmental Resources
o Reminder: RECREATIONAL fishing is prohibited.
o Next week, the fertilizer certificates for coffee growers will begin to be issued, to be redeemed in the participating farm shops.
o Following the measures of EO-2020-023 and actions that have been taken in the Land Registry due to the emergency of COVID-19 to interrupt on-site operations, expiration dates have been adjusted. In accordance with the provisions of Article 255 of Act 210-2015, any document with a Consent and Expiration date between March 16, 2020, and April 15, 2020, will be modified to the following dates:
o Consent Date: May 5, 2020
o Expiration Date: June 15, 2020