Fact Check of the Day: Trump’s False Claims Rejecting Puerto Rico’s Death Toll From Hurricane Maria

Fact Check of the Day In a pair of tweets casting doubt on the official estimate of nearly 3,000 deaths, the president clung to an outdated estimate, wrongly suggested...


Fact Check of the Day

In a pair of tweets casting doubt on the official estimate of nearly 3,000 deaths, the president clung to an outdated estimate, wrongly suggested that doubt over the figure emerged “a long time later” and inaccurately characterized the new figure as including all deaths on the island.

Linda Qiu

the facts

False.

President Trump rejected the official estimate from the Puerto Rico government that nearly 3,000 people died from Hurricane Maria through a series of misleading or false claims on Thursday.

He cited an outdated tally that officials had acknowledged almost immediately was too low, misleadingly suggested that doubt over the tally did not emerge until “a long time later,” accused Democrats, without evidence, of inflating the figures and wrongly described the current official estimate as counting all deaths on the island, regardless of whether they were related to the storm.

The 3,000 figure comes from an estimate in a study by independent researchers at George Washington University and commissioned by the Puerto Rico government.

The researchers found that government data documented 16,608 deaths from September 2017 to February 2018 — 2,975 more deaths than under predicted mortality rates. In other words, researchers explicitly tried to avoid counting people who “died for any reason, like old age.”

“No serious academic who studies this stuff thought that was plausible. It was implausibly small,” he said. In contrast, Mr. Mutter said, the George Washington University estimate and others like it produced much more believable counts.

Here’s a timeline of how the official tally has shifted, when independent estimates were published and how Puerto Rican officials have responded:

Source: George Washington University, John Mutter, The New York Times, The Miami Herald, CNN, research from Alexis R. Santos, Center for Investigative Journalism, National Hurricane Center, whitehouse.gov, The Royal Statistical Society

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: President Accuses Democrats of Inflating Puerto Rico Death Toll. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe



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