Puerto Rico is a poor nation with crumbling infrastructure, high rates of obesity and diabetes, an aging population (20% is 65 or older), a densely packed urban population, and a very social tightly knit culture that values physical gatherings.
What else can I throw in there?
Puerto Rico ticks all the boxes for an uncontrolled rate of corona-virus infection and death.
And yet as of today, the 13th of November our case numbers are half of what they were 14 days ago, our mortality rate is 1.3% nearly half the rate in the U.S. (and has been since the summer). The U.S., is a nation with access to deep resources, higher per capita income, a more individualistic lifestyle, a decidedly younger demographic on average (14% over the age of 65% according to the US Census), and lower rates of diabetes.
I went out today to run some errands for the house. I stopped at a small appliance parts store, a tiny little space nestled deep in the heart of working class Carolina on Campo Rico street. Only two customers were allowed in at a time. They had a mask mandate. They took my temperature. They gave me hand sanitizer. They had protective shields.
This is everywhere. I have never seen anybody without a mask. Every store, no matter how large or small has implemented recommended health protocols, social distancing marked with stickers on the floor, masks, hand sanitizer, and infrared thermometers. People have followed and continue to follow these guidelines. Sure we grumble, but we thank our cashiers and service people for the risk they put themselves in to serve their customers, and the last thing we want to do is put them in more danger by invoking some sort of right to not wear a mask.
It’s impressive to watch a nation with so few resources work together, listen to science and public health officials, and not politicize mask wearing.