Puerto Rico: Shortage of Power, Critical Medical Supplies Post-Hurricane Maria
3.4 million Puerto Rico residents are still struggling to access fuel and power two weeks after Hurricane Maria, while another crisis brews regarding access to critical medical devices and supplies.
Currently, Puerto Rico expects 500,000 barrels of diesel and nearly one million barrels of gasoline to arrive to help with the lack of power for most of the island. 47% of water and sewer service have returned, but there remains variation across the island. 50 hospitals are currently operational, with additional assistance expected from the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has offered his company’s solar panel unit as a long-term solution, tweeting Thursday, “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico.”
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló responded, “Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.”
Meanwhile, federal officials and pharma organizations are working to prevent national shortages of drugs, medical devices, and supplies that have been manufactured at plants on the island, Puerto Rico’s leading exports.
Puerto Rico is one of the world’s largest centers for pharmaceutical manufacturing, with factories that make 13 of the world’s top-selling brand-name drugs, including Humira and Xarelto. It is a $15 billion per year business.
Current obstacles include locating enough fuel to power generators and run factories, and getting nearly 100,000 employees to work amidst damaged roads, power and phone lines.
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