MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle highlights report that about 5,000 people died in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria

The official government death toll is still 64

From the May 29 edition of MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle:

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STEPHANIE RUHLE (CO-HOST): Please turn up the volume for this. This new study just in, estimating at least 4,645 people died in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, which hit last September causing massive devastation. But the official government death toll stands at 64. The Harvard study says people died from delayed medical care. The researchers say their estimate remains imprecise, with more definitive studies still to come. The findings come amid widespread concern that the government's figure was a dramatic undercount. Joining me now, MSNBC's Mariana Atencio, live in Miami. Mariana, walk us through the numbers because it seems as though Puerto Rico's official number is sort of people who were directly hit that day by the storm, and what Harvard's study shows is people who the impact hit and hurt for weeks or months after. 

MARIANA ATENCIO (MSNBC REPORTER): That's exactly right, Stephanie. We're talking about 40.3 people who died, according to this study, out of every 1,000 Puerto Ricans in the months following the hurricane, so ranging from September 2017 to December 2017 because of delayed medical care or interrupted medical care. This new study states that a third of the people who died, so almost those 5,000 people they're saying died from Maria-related deaths, are due to that interrupted medical care or delayed medical care. We're talking about elderly folks who were on dialysis treatment, for example, and didn't get continued treatment. We're talking about folks who died from asthma. I was on the ground in the countryside in Puerto Rico in the months following Hurricane Maria. I was on the ground this year, and when you go to the country side, these were areas like Comerío, like Naranjito, right smack in the middle of the island where they still have no power, no electricity. And they were completely cut off. I, myself, saw elderly people getting medical care from first response units from New York and San Francisco who said these folks hadn't been tended to by these volunteer workers right away, they could have died. So again, what I saw on the ground was reflective of what this study is saying now, that there are people, now we're finding almost 5,000, that died from Maria-related deaths that weren't in that official government count. 

RUHLE: Mariana, this study is stunning, these numbers massive. And a reminder that we need to keep paying attention to all that's going on in Puerto Rico. Lots of people there are still not in the clear.


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