Puerto Rico experienced its highest levels of pandemic activity in August

Compared to the 9 cases reported daily in May, an average of 264 daily cases were registered during the month of August.

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To provide reliable data regarding the COVID-19 virus in Puerto Rico, as well as an expert interpretation of them, 9 Millones established a partnership with the Public Health in Action project, which was started by epidemiologist Roberta Lugo Robles. This article was translated from its original Spanish version by María Cardona.

According to data provided by the Puerto Rico Department of Health on August 30, there are a total of 32,848 COVID-19 cases in Puerto Rico. From those, 15,229 are positive via molecular testing and 17,619 are positives from serological testing. Since the last report, 1,947 confirmed cases and 1,324 probable cases have been added to the Department of Health’s numbers.

Epidemiologist Roberta Lugo Robles noted that there is a reduction in the growth rate (fluctuating between 2% and 3%).

“During May, around 9 cases were reported daily during a time in which we were able to control the spread of COVID-19 on the archipelago. Later, we observed as the spread kept growing until it was out of control, and by the month of August, nearly 246 cases have been registered daily,” said Lugo Robles.

Average cases per day (Y: Days/ Cases X: March, April, May, June, July, and August)

This week, three data points stand out:

  • August has been the month with the highest rate of infection with over 6,400 cases

  • On average, six deaths were registered daily during August

  • The active spread of the virus continues in the community with a positivity rate fluctuating between 14% and 15%

COVID-19 in Puerto Rico

The distribution of confirmed cases by gender continues with a 50/50 split with a median age of 42 years old.

The group with the highest level of reported transmission is between the ages of 20 and 29 with 2,709 cases, followed by the group between 40 and 49 year-olds with 2,643 cases. Out of the 1,947 confirmed cases added last week, 47% belong to people between the ages of 20 and 49.

In geographical terms, the San Juan metro area continues having the highest rate of confirmed cases with a total of 5,479 (accounting for 37.1% of total cases), followed by Bayamón with 3,384 cases (22.9%), and the region of Caguas with 1,561 cases (10.6%).

Geographic distribution Source: PR Department of Health (08/30/2020)

The Department of Health’s data also shows that by August 30 there were a total of 365 hospitalizations, 63 patients in intensive care, and 46 on ventilators. During the past week, the number of hospitalizations has fluctuated between 363 and 409 patients.

An average of 419 daily hospitalizations was registered during August. The hospitalization peak was registered on August 2 with a total of 533 patients.

“Hospitalizations continue declining in a gradual manner. COVID-19 patients represent 5% of total hospitalizations,” added Lugo Robles.

Hospitalizations Source: Monitoreo de COVID-19 en Puerto Rico

With 53 additional deaths as of August 22, the death toll rises to 434. Out of these deaths, 287 correspond to confirmed cases (molecular testing was done) and 147 were identified as probable deaths. Probable deaths are deaths attributed to COVID-19 via a positive serological test or through clinical/epidemiological criteria.

“In August, an average of six daily deaths were reported. Close to 40% of registered deaths have occurred during August for a total of 177 deaths,” said Lugo Robles.

Daily COVID-19 Deaths. Source: Monitoreo de COVID-19 en Puerto Rico

With 53 additional deaths as of August 22, the death toll rises to 434. Out of these deaths, 287 correspond to confirmed cases (molecular testing was done) and 147 were identified as probable deaths. Probable deaths are deaths attributed to COVID-19 via a positive serological test or through clinical/epidemiological criteria.

“In August, an average of six daily deaths were reported. Close to 40% of registered deaths have occurred during August for a total of 177 deaths,” said Lugo Robles.

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According to the Department of Health’s contact tracing report, by July 31, around 44% of confirmed cases had been contacted. As a result, a total of 9,576 contacts have been tracked, out of which 7.75% tested positive for COVID-19. The highest rate of contacts has been identified in Mayagüez (19.1%) followed by Ponce (15.4%), and Caguas (12.2%).

As of July 23, reports on convalescent cases have still to be updated by the Department of Health. You can see the latest reports on tracking and convalescent cases in our previous data report.

It is estimated that Puerto Rico has over 10,000 convalescent cases and more than 2,000 active cases within the community.

Positivity between 14% and 15%

Data from recent weeks indicate that we will continue experiencing an active spread throughout the community, with around 2,000 new confirmed cases each week.

The positivity rate has fluctuated between 14% and 15% during August.

Blue: Amount of tests done Yellow: Positivity Rate Source: Monitoreo de COVID-19 en PR

This trend is indicative of a limitation in testing capacities still to come. During July, Puerto Rico managed to perform between 5,000 to 8,000 daily tests.

During the past two weeks, on average, nearly 2,100 daily tests have been performed. The decrease in testing capacities has had a tremendous impact on the positivity indicator.

The high positivity rates indicate a need for increased testing capacities and that community transmission is uncontrolled. This suggests the need for measures to control and restrict the spread should continue.

Current Panorama

Puerto Rico is still experiencing its highest levels of pandemic activity. A rise in the following indicators has been observed: 1) number of new daily cases, 2) positivity rate, 3) volume of hospitalizations, and 4) registered deaths.

During July, close to 6,486 cases were reported for an average of 209 daily cases. In August, we saw an increase with an average of 265 cases reported daily for a total of 6,400 cases up to date, making August the month of highest pandemic activity for Puerto Rico.

“For this reason, it is crucial that we continue enforcing protection and prevention methods,” emphasized Lugo Robles.

Let’s stop the spread. Let’s carry out the prevention trilogy.

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