Puerto Rico had its largest single-day increase in new COVD-19 cases, 47, a sign that testing is ramping up but also that the virus is spreading amid some of the most restrictive measures of any U.S. jurisdiction.
On Monday, the island’s Health Department said public and private labs had detected 47 new cases and that another patient had died. The island now has 174 cases of the novel coronavirus and has registered six deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus..
The latest fatality was a 68-year-old man who had close contact with a family member who had traveled to New York — the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, the Health Department said. The man died at a hospital in Bayamón, about 10 miles southwest of the capital.
Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory of 3.2 million people, registered its first three cases of the novel coronavirus on March 13 and shut all non-essential businesses, canceled school and ordered residents to stay indoors three days later. Those measures — along with others — will continue through at least April 12.
Despite the tough actions early in the outbreak, the number of new cases continues to grow.
On March 28, the island hit its first 100 cases. The following day, it record 27 new cases — a record high — and two new deaths, including the island’s youngest victim, a 42-year-old woman who had underlying health issues.
“The numbers keep increasing, both in terms of new cases and deaths related to COVID-19,” Health Secretary Lorenzo González said in a statement. “This should be a warning to all of us that we are in a serious situation that we have to take seriously. We must obey the social distancing rules ordered by the government and avoid leaving our homes. It’s the only way to stop the propagation of this virus.”
Despite the uptick, officials say the spread would be far worse if Puerto Rico had not taken measures to enforce isolation and social distancing.