Puerto Rico’s fight against COVID-19 continues on the island.
Puerto Rico is seeing an estimated rate of 21,800 new cases per month this week, and the figure looks set to rise or remain constant in August.
This is a sharp increase in cases after a noticeable and steady drop since April, with cases starting to rise again in July.
While this is a worrying figure, that number is down from the critical level of cases seen last April, just before cases started to drop – around 34,700 cases during the month.
Immunization rates are a major concern for many countries. Currently Puerto Rico has a 60.6% fully immunized vaccination rate.
This data is courtesy of Act now, an independent 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization founded by volunteers in March 2020. Act now is the initiative of the nonprofit focused on COVID.
The goal in Puerto Rico now is to avoid the continued increase in daily cases and to address the effects of the continued spread of COVID-19.
Nurse practitioner Abigail Matos-Pagan has a steadfast and caring approach to this challenge.
Matos-Pagán is a Puerto Rican nurse practitioner born in New York City. When she was nine, her mother passed away and she was inspired by the care her mother received from nurses.
From that moment on, Matos-Pagan made it a goal to support people during times of tragedy, disaster and loss.
She currently holds the prestigious role of First Commander of the Puerto Rico Disaster Response Team and is the Director and Founder of the Coalition of Nurses for Communities in Disaster. Matos-Pagán became known in Puerto Rico for her work as a nurse, as well as for her unwavering humanity and commitment to a role model of altruism.
She was present for relief efforts during the aftermath of hurricanes and earthquakes in Puerto Rico and beyond.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Matos-Pagán conducted early community assessments in the most remote and hardest hit towns.
After a powerful series of earthquakes that rocked the island in 2020, Matos-Pagán organized nurse practitioners to provide community health care. The earthquakes have left many residents homeless, or placed them in substandard housing.
In the process, Matos-Pagán provided drugs to populations at risk when pharmacies were closed. His team also set up mobile medical tents near hospitals when they became overcrowded.
During COVID-19, Matos-Pagán made it a goal to help others in the island’s vaccination effort. She hopes to vaccinate as many people as possible in Puerto Rico, as first reported Kaiser Santé news (KHN).
Some residents of the town of Mayagüez offered Matos-Pagán the title of “Queen of vaccination”. Some come to Matos-Pagan’s home looking for a dose of vaccine.
She has personally vaccinated around 1,800 people in Puerto Rico so far. Of this number, about 1,000 people are living with chronic illness or are bedridden.
The nurse practitioner came to the aid of housebound residents who were not physically able to leave their homes and those living in the most remote areas of the island.
“It was really special to have some intimate moments in someone’s house during the vaccinations. You can tell how much this means to their whole family, ”said Matos-Pagan. KHN.
While pursuing a nursing career, Matos-Pagán left the United States and returned to Puerto Rico to study nursing. She obtained her Masters and Doctorate degrees from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.
Since then, she has done extensive nursing and medical work in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic coast of the United States.
In the United States, Matos-Pagán found herself in a managerial position on an intensive care floor at a resource-constrained El Paso hospital, and also took on responsibilities at a senior citizen’s residence in difficulty in Maryland.
Now, as COVID-19 sees further outbreaks in Puerto Rico, Matos-Pagán’s work is more important than ever.
Amid fears of a recession and the role of tourism in the economy, authorities in Puerto Rico are implementing plans to avoid worst-case scenarios.
Many envision a potential need to require vaccinations to curb the spread and prevent mutating new variants of COVID-19. This conversation is taking place all over the world, but in Puerto Rico, industries such as education have already made the decision.
Recently, Governor Pedro Pierluisi issued a decree (EO 2021-058) requiring the vaccination of all public employees of the executive. The executive order restores mask requirements inside and out when social distancing at six feet is not feasible.
The persons affected by the new Pierluisi executive decree are the employees and private contractors of the executive power, the employees of the health sector and the employees and guests of all hotels, hostels, guest houses or other rentals in short term.
The decree comes into force on August 16, 2021 and suggests that all business establishments and private entities must adopt similar requirements.
In addition to the vaccination efforts that Matos-Pagán continues to deploy in Puerto Rico, the nurse practitioner will keep an eye on the looming effects of the next hurricane season, which officially began on the island in June.