President Trump on Thursday claimed the number of people who died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico “did not go up by much” beyond the initial counts that were released just after the storm and put the death toll in the single or low double digits.
But Trump’s assertion defies the findings of at least eight different studies that estimated the number of deaths to be at least several hundred, if not more than 1,000.
That includes one report that estimated the death toll was 2,975 — a figure that the government of Puerto Rico has adopted as the official count.
In a pair of tweets Thursday, Trump appeared to specifically attack the findings of that study.
3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
.....This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
The tweets came after Trump on Wednesday, as Hurricane Florence approached the Southeast US coast, attacked criticism lobbed in recent months over the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, calling his administration’s efforts “underappreciated.”
Below is a list of studies that have estimated the death toll there. The list is arranged to show the most recent studies first.
August 2018 estimate from a study led by researchers at George Washington University
(The Puerto Rican government commissioned this study. When the analysis was published, the government updated its official death toll to reflect this number after claiming for months that there were only 64 deaths.)
August 2018 estimate that updated a preliminary November 2017 study led by a researcher at Pennsylvania State University
July 2018 estimate from a study led by researchers at Harvard University
July 2018 estimate from a study led by the government of Puerto Rico
June 2018 estimate from an analysis by The New York Times
February 2018 estimate from researchers at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez
December 2017 estimate from an analysis by the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico
November 2017 preliminary estimate from a study led by researcher at Pennsylvania State UniversityMaterial from the Associated Press was used in this report. Matt Rocheleau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele.