Puerto Rico under scrutiny as youngest COVID-19 patient dies

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Nurse Carlos Davila takes a sample from a police officer at a Health Department drive-thru checkpoint where molecular tests that detect the new coronavirus are being processed, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, April 16, 2020. Gov. Wanda Vazquez announced on Thursday the cancellation of all contracts awarded to people and companies whose names have been publicized as part of a local and federal investigation into the intended purchase of new coronavirus testing kits. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

SAN JUAN – Puerto Ricans are becoming increasingly disgruntled with how the government is handling the COVID-19 crisis as details emerge, including the death a 29-year-old man who became the U.S. territory’s youngest victim after his father said he wasn’t tested the first two times he sought help at an emergency room.

The allegation was made as the government announced Saturday that a private company took responsibility for disconnecting a refrigerated trailer packed with food that was supposed to be distributed to those in need amid a two-month lockdown to curb coronavirus cases, causing chicken, vegetables, fruits and other items to spoil.

“This is completely unacceptable,” said Public Safety Director Pedro Janer.

He said that while the government will be reimbursed, the incident is under investigation after the company said it received instructions to disconnect the trailer from an employee of a local emergency management office.

The food was left over from when Puerto Rico was hit with a series of strong earthquakes in recent months that killed one person and caused millions of dollars in damage along the island’s southern coast. Officials did not provide the estimated cost of the food lost.

Meanwhile, newly appointed Health Secretary Lorenzo González acknowledged during Saturday’s press conference that the island’s COVID-19 related data is not entirely accurate because some positive cases might have been counted twice, and that the government is working to improve it.

“It’s imperfect data, but we’re going to use it...because it’s the one we have,” he said.

González said he hopes to eventually make missing data available, including the number of people who have recuperated from COVID-19.