Puerto Rico has begun administering COVID-19 vaccine. A territory of the United States, Puerto Rico received the vaccine at the same time as the 50 States.
The United States has reserved enough doses of the vaccine to inoculate the entire population, while nearby nations will have much longer waits to receive sufficient supplies. Jamaica, for example, has only been able to reserve enough doses for 10% of its population.
New coronavirus restrictions
Governor Wanda Vázquez-Garced has announced new restrictions for Puerto Rico to be in effect from December 7th to January 7th. The Island will be under curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. every day, and residents must shelter in place on Sundays.
However, quite a few businesses are allowed to be open on Sundays.
Restaurant dining rooms may be open with 30% of their capacity Monday through Saturday and dining rooms must be closed on Sundays. However, pick and delivery of take-out food is allowed on Sundays until 11:00 p.m.
Grocery stores and pharmacies can stay open from 5:00 a.m.to 8:30 p.m. Gas stations and their supply chain have the same hours.
Other businesses, including gyms, casinos, retail stores, movie theaters, and more, can operate at 30% capacity Monday through Saturday. These businesses must post a sign showing the number of people allowed in the establishment, and the confidential COVID-19 hotline for complaints about noncompliance.
Beaches will be open for sports, but not for gatherings or for sunbathing.
Hotel bars must be closed during this time, along with most common areas in hotels. Alcohol cannot be sold on weekends. Bars outside of hotels must also remain closed, along with nightclubs, concert halls, and similar venues. Outdoor groups gathered for drinking are forbidden as well.
Recreational boating, jet-skis, and other water transportation are forbidden. Water transport from one island to another for work is allowed.
Finally, visits to elderly relatives and friends at care centers are forbidden.
Earlier requirements, such as the use of masks, are still in place.
COVID-19 cases in Puerto Rico
As of this writing, Puerto Rico has had 111,232 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 1,312 deaths. There were 283 new cases and 18 new deaths.
Compared with States of the same size, Puerto Rico has fewer cases but similar numbers of deaths. Utah, for example, has had 237,787 cases but just 1,077 deaths.
Puerto Rico has a less robust healthcare system and significantly less federal funding for health care than the States. Notably, Medicaid benefits are capped in Puerto Rico but not in the states. Doctor reimbursement rates tend to be lower as well, contributing to an exodus of doctors to Florida and other states. Rates of diabetes, asthma, and other health conditions that make people more susceptible to COVID-19 are also higher in Puerto Rico than in the states.