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The American College Of Physicians Urges Trump To Do More To Help Puerto Rico

author

Rosie McCall

Staff Writer

clockSep 29 2017, 15:44 UTC

Hurricane Maria was the fifth largest storm to hit the US, leaving Puerto Rico, already in the midst of a severe economic crisis, completely devastated. Streets have been flooded, buildings destroyed, and many of the island's 3.4 million citizens left without access to clean water, food, or electricity. In short, it's a humanitarian crisis.

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One major concern is the state of hospitals and lack of medical supplies. Most of Puerto Rico's medical facilities are without electricity and fuel for generators. This combined with serious shortages of food, clean water, and pharmaceutical drugs, along with sewage-contaminated floodwater, means that a massive public health emergency is looming. 

"People are dying," San Juan mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, said on CBSN.

"Every moment we spend planning in a meeting or every moment we spend just not getting the help we're supposed to get, people are starting to die. This is not painting a picture. This is just the reality that we live in, the crude aftermath of a storm, a hurricane, that has left us technically paralyzed."

The situation is so bleak that members of the American College of Physicians (ACP) wrote Trump a letter, urging him to do more to help American citizens living in Puerto Rico. The letter, sent Thursday, September 28, asked the president to work with Congress to prepare additional resources to help "avert the emerging public health disaster in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands".

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"As each day passes without adequate access to basic necessities and health care services, the public health crisis in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will continue to become more dire," wrote Jack Ende, MD, President of the ACP, on behalf of the 152,000-member group. 

"We respectfully urge your administration to consider taking additional actions to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis threatening the lives and livelihood of millions of American citizens affected by Hurricane Maria."

Trump has been under fire for not doing enough to help Puerto Rico (a US territory with US citizens) while being a little too preoccupied with the NFL. Though it looks like he's tried to compensate with a barrage of tweets addressing the crisis and a $3 million donation.

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And after facing increasing pressure to do so, the Trump administration has finally placed a temporary waiver on the Jones Act, which Ende acknowledges and expresses gratitude for in the letter. 

The act prohibits any ship that is not American built, crewed, and owned by Americans from carrying goods and passengers from one American port to another. Lifting the ban has allowed foreign ships carrying aid to access an isolated Puerto Rico for now, but many argue the temporariness of this waiver will limit relief efforts in the long-term.

Many American citizens have been stepping in to help with relief efforts. Take, for example, the rapper Pitbull, who has been using his private plane to carry Puerto Rican cancer patients to the mainland for treatment, and queen of pop Beyonce, who has just released a version of the track Mi Gente, with the proceeds going to help relief efforts in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and other Caribbean Islands. Even Royal Caribbean has canceled a cruise so that one of its ships can deliver supplies and pick up evacuees. 


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