Florida lawmakers worked to provide COVID-19 relief for Puerto Rico including adding the U.S. territory in the CARES Act, but an expert said it's not enough.

What You Need To Know

  • Florida worked to provide COVID-19 relief for Puerto Rico

  • Puerto Ricans received about $3 billion in stimulus checks

  • Expert says more funding is need

  • The island has a high rate of unemployement

The CARES ACT provided Puerto Ricans with approximately $3 billion in stimulus checks. A spokesperson for Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy's office said Puerto Rico was equally included in all COVID-19 relief bills, which was unprecedented.

For example, the spokesperson said in 2010, Puerto Rico was not equally included in the Affordable Care Act nor was it equally included in the Reinvestment Act of 2009.

A spokesperson for the Trump Administration said other aid to help Puerto Rico includes:

  • ​More than $31.6 million ​from FEMA
  • The U.S. Department of Human and Health Services provided more than $155.6 million through the Provider Relief Fund
  • The SBA issued more than $658 million to more than 2,800 Puerto Rico small businesses
  • FEMA delivered 134 N-95 masks, 314,275 surgical masks, 52,000 medical gowns, 1,901 coveralls, 63, 274 face shields and 278,656 from the Strategic National Stockpile

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) said he is "glad that the Administration has approved additional Disaster Relief funding for the Island and he will continue to fight to make sure that the American Citizens of Puerto Rico get the resources they need.​"

Fernando Rivera, Ph.D., director of UCF Puerto Rico Research Hub, called it a "patchwork" and asked for more help. "Puerto Rico has a high percentage of unemployment, higher than most states, and there is concerning issues in terms of food security," Rivera said.

Forty-three percent of the island’s population lives in poverty higher than the national rate of 13 percent. Rivera said he is concerned if a hurricane would hit the island that's still recovering from Hurricane Maria and a series of earthquakes that began in December 2019.

"We need to make sure that there is a plan in place for the next natural disaster, that there are enough resources to prepare that's headed our way, and there are enough resources to get back on our feet once this pandemic is over," Murphy said.

Murphy said money was also provided for Puerto Rico's Medicaid system as 45 percent of residents there are covered under the program.

Puerto Rico’s Health Department reported on Tuesday May, 12, there are almost 2,300 positive cases and 114 deaths. Rivera said he is skeptical of those numbers because of the lack of concise testing. 

"I think we need more reliance on the data to see the impact of what's really going on," Rivera said. 

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