Alex Cora on Trump's comments: It's about human beings

Massive stockpile of bottled water found in Puerto Rico a year after Maria

In the tweet, Trump quoted Rivera saying, "They say all these people died in the storm in Puerto Rico, yet 70 per cent of the power was out before the storm". "So I have no reason to dispute those numbers".

Numerous deaths in the aftermath of Maria were attributed to power failures and limited access to healthcare and clean drinking water.

Rossello said he left the analysis of the deaths in the hands of experts and accepted their estimate as the official death toll.

That number was produced by public health experts at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in a report commissioned by the USA territory's governor, Ricardo Rossello.

Trump earned some heavy criticism for those remarks, including from the outspoken mayor of the capital San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, on Tuesday night.

The adjustment of the official death toll followed almost a year of campaigning by journalists, activists and academics to get the government to officially acknowledge the scale of devastation because 64 people was always considered an underestimate. If you're suggesting that every person who gets sick and dies months after a storm comes through because the infrastructure is inadequate, or medical supplies aren't available, or because they were bitten by a dog who might have been too hungry because he lost his owners in the storm, are directly attributable to the hurricane, then... Its inhabitants are US citizens, though they are barred from voting in presidential elections and have only one congressional representative with limited voting powers.

Echoing Cruz's condemnation of Trump's tweets, Democratic lawmakers also expressed outrage that the president would attempt to downplay the number of people who died as a result of a natural disaster and USA government neglect.

There are also no state or federal guidelines in the USA for calculating storm or hurricane-related deaths.

"We are scientists. We are public health people".

Also on Friday, Trump compared media treatment of the time President Obama made a slip of the tongue with that of his own constant avalanche of falsehoods. "We try to reach the truth, and we try to understand what is damaging the people in order to prevent disease", he said. That's a number that came out of Puerto Rico's government after it commissioned a study by George Washington University.

As for the Trump administration, more than half of federal emergency personnel in Puerto Rico were not qualified for their assigned tasks as of October 2017, a month after landfall, according to a September 5 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Adam Goodman, a Republican consultant who supported Trump before the election and early in his presidency but has now become a critic, said the comments are certain to anger voters already inclined to vote Democratic in November. "We all knew - without a doubt - that the death-toll had to be in the thousands instead of the 18 initially reported".

But Trump has continued to boast about the handling of Maria, calling it "an incredible unsung success" as he warned residents of the Carolinas not to take chances with Florence.

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