Puerto Ricans admitted this week that the death toll from Hurricane Maria, which hit US territory last September, is 46 times higher than previously said.
Not 64 dead, as was the official line.
An estimated 2,975 deaths.
But that's just a statistical estimate – an approximation.
Officials have only published details about 64 of these persons. You only called 57.
Internally, the Puerto Rican authorities have identified other people whose deaths they consider hurricane-related, but their names have not been published, according to a representative from Puerto Rico, who has spoken with CNN about the situation because of the anonymity, because the person was not authorized to talk about internal affairs. The official asked the exact number of deaths not to be reported because she said that this figure is not even known within the government.
September 20 ̵
Tying individual deaths to the storm is much more difficult and time-consuming than estimating the number of "surplus deaths" hurricanes like Maria, the official said.
"If there is a death certificate or information about cases that can be linked to the hurricane, we want transparency, right? We want to create justice for all," said the official.
"These are just numbers, they are not human"
Some friends and family members of the deceased, on the other hand, declare that dealing with the death toll by the government was unjust – even after The Number the death toll has been updated this week.
"For the government, they are just numbers, they are not human beings," said Lisa de Jesús, whose best friend, Reinaldo Ruiz Cintron, died while working in a cleaning crew's storm. His death was still not considered storm-related by officials, even though he was described in a mortality database CNN as a "victim of a catastrophic storm" and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI) sued the Puerto Rican government to seek civil servants.
"These people left the family behind – they left people in mourning … … It's not that (Puerto Rican officials) have to erect a memorial, but at least say: Hey, look, These are the people who will always be remembered, these are the people who helped their country … and they will not forget. & # 39; They were people, important people "For us, at least."
George Washington University's Tuesday report – contracted by Puerto Rico for $ 305,368 – is just another number, an estimate, de Jesus said.  She does not recognize the individual victims like her friend.
The researchers initially proposed an assessment that would include individual storm-related deaths – likely including interviews with family members, medical providers and a review of hospital records. Carlos Santos-Burgoa, a professor of global health at George Washington University and chief investigator for the Puerto Rico report, has been commissioned.
This proposal was rejected, apparently because of the costs, said Santos-Burgoa CNN, with the understanding that a follow-up study could be commissioned. Such a study was not agreed, he said. Researchers are actively seeking a new source of funding.
"When we were approached, we submitted an overall proposal that included the whole thing," said Santos-Burgoa. "And they said, 'You can not have everything, you look like a teenager – you want to have everything! And you can not have it.'
" It was much more complex. It had many more components, the original proposal. "
" They said, "We will fund Phase I for all-cause mortality and see what happens to Phase II," he added. "The government has never committed to funding Phase II."
The Puerto Rican officials did not respond to requests for comment on this report. Nor did they answer the question of updating the official list of individuals whose deaths were due to hurricane.
Rosselló, The island's governor said in a press conference on Tuesday that the exact investigation of the causes of death could take months or years – and it's unclear who would pay for it. "We use the best science available … to make sense of it," Rosselló told reporters at the event in Puerto Rico. "The truth is, there's a lot of work to do."
Officials will continue to investigate the deaths Update the result accordingly, he said.
 CNN began asking questions about Hurricane Maria's death toll in October after investigating funeral homes in a community and contacting 112 of them across the island. These reports, along with work by journalists from the CPI in Puerto Rico, the New York Times and others, urged Puerto Rico to commission the review.
Rosselló announced for the first time a review of deaths in December and reported that deaths had not been reported. The governor in February held a press conference to announce that Puerto Rico had hired George Washington University to conduct the analysis.
Since then, the Puerto Rican authorities had told reporters that they would not comment on countless deaths until graduating from George Washington University
Puerto Ricans did not respond to repeated questions about the Cases] At least one other death was termed storm-related by officials last year, according to a CNN report.
& # 39; It was almost a year & # 39;
There was enough time for the officials to continue collecting evidence about who died and why, Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. "It was almost a year," he said. "They would think that there is already enough time to make these lists and get the information there, but they started from a point of minimizing deaths – there were political challenges and communication challenges."
The controversy over Hurricane Maria's deaths began October 3 when President Donald Trump visited Puerto Rico. In a press conference with Rosselló, Trump praised the relatively low death toll from the storm – at that time 16 – and said he was glad that Maria did not have the death of a "real disaster" like Hurricane Katrina that hit the Gulf Coast in 2005
Later that day, after Trump left the island, the death toll rose to 34.
The White House said this week in a statement by Sarah Sanders that "the federal government supports and supports Governor Rosselló's efforts to ensure full accountability and transparency in the deaths caused by last year's hurricanes – the American people including those who lost one loved one, do not deserve less. "
President Trump followed suit on Wednesday, saying that the federal government had done a" fantastic job "responding to the disaster in Puerto Rico.
Rosselló admitted guilty after the hurricane, he reported on the death toll, but he denied any political interference in the listing of deaths. "My only consideration is the well-being of the people in Puerto Rico," he said Tuesday. "My only consideration was to get the best information available and the truth out there."
Where does the study quantify how many lives have been saved?
Puerto Rico Political Pressure Increases
In recent weeks, two officials from the Forensic Science Bureau in Puerto Rico, which is investigating the deaths, have resigned, according to local news. (Both officials reportedly named personal reasons). In addition, some Puerto Rican politicians have called for the resignation of Héctor Pesquera, head of the public security department. In an October interview, Pesquera told CNN that any hint of political interference in the fatalities was "horseshit."
"We need to go forward, we can not go backwards," Pesquera told a local Univision daughter this week. "If it's a matter of guilt, the government accepts it and I accept it, there's blame for it all, but there was a disaster, that's the reason for all that." If that had not been, there would have been 2,975 deaths. " No, probably not. So we have to attribute that to the hurricane. "
He added," Where does the study quantify how many lives have been saved? That does not exist. "
Rosselló said this week he has confidence in Pesquera
The report from George Washington University and others who like it found that many hurricane-related deaths occur well after the day of the storm Hurricane Maria and Its Impact
A CNN comparison of power restoration in Puerto Rico with Hurricane Irma in Florida and Hurricane Harvey in Texas, for example, shows widespread and lengthy delays in Puerto Rico.
Thousands Were Out of Power for Months – Some for the better part of a year
While it's unclear if the deaths are related to the gap in basic public services, the George Washington report found "surplus deaths" at least until February – five months after the storm – especially for poor people and elderly pue rto-rican, researchers found.
For residents in the lowest socioeconomic bracket, the risk of hurricane-related death actually increased in the months following the storm, peaking in January, the report says.
Some people in remote parts of the island felt abandoned.
"It still hurts so much"
Not everyone thinks the names of storm victims should be published.
The mention of the deceased's name raises privacy concerns and would be "unusual," said John Mother, a professor at Columbia University who investigated deaths after Hurricane Katrina.
Still, he said, more information would have to be released, as well as why people died to get better next time. "What has to be published publicly is the statistics of cause of death, age, race, gender and, if possible, the place of death – where did people die."
The list of names is important for some families and friends of the deceased, however.
It is symbolic that some want their loved ones to be publicly remembered. And it may also be important in terms of government support. Families of people whose deaths are officially classified as storm-related can be reimbursed by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for some funeral expenses.
The maximum payout for funerals and related expenses for eligible persons is $ 6,000, a FEMA spokesman told CNN in November.
There are other ways in which the death toll also counts financially.
Higher death tolls are also attracting more attention from Congress and the public, so the accuracy of the numbers is important. A major problem in terms of disaster relief, said Redlener, who heads the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia. "If the government spends and the White House confirms a small number of casualties and is malicious, then one underestimates the effects of the storm," he said, "and that undermines the motivation for Congress, for example, to adjust the right amount of money for the answer. "
There is also an emotional shock, Redlener said. "If your loved one died during or after a severe storm and the government does not even acknowledge it, it's very difficult to achieve any kind of closure," he said. "At the family and community level, the names are important – and it's important that the names are recognized."
Lisa de Jesús wants her friend Reinaldo Ruiz Cintron – who loved the sea, loved crab fishing and wanted to see Puerto Rico rebuilt after the storm – to be named.
The same applies to Juan Luis Ortiz Guzman, whose mother Pilar Guzmán Ríos died on 29 September 2017 without adequate medical care or electricity to operate medical equipment. Guzman was so popular in her mountain community that neighbors said that "even the cats prayed for Pilar" when she fell ill. She was known to raise three birds on her back terrace – and she had taught them to sing the rosary and sing "La Cucaracha".
"It was not easy to lose my mom, and it still hurts so much," her son, Ortiz Guzman, said Thursday. "But to be in front of the TV and hear an officer say, 'No, it was 64, and not anymore … it still makes me angry … so many people died because of this storm.'  "My lover is gone, Mine is with God," he added. But if recommendations from the report are taken seriously, he said, "at least in the future, they can know and save our lives."
"It's still painful," said Jan Marcos Fuentes Morales, Pilar's great-nephew. Some family members still live in an informal shelter because their homes are damaged.
"I want to (officials) come here and see how families still suffer." They should see this with their own eyes. They talk to them and tell them about someone who has died. "
CNNs Leyla Santiago and Jason Kravarik contributed to this report.