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Why Hurricane Maria’s death toll is misunderstood and incomparable to other disasters

The author, John Morales, is chief meteorologist at NBC6 in Miami. He is a Puerto Rican and fellow of the American Meteorological Society. This perspective was first published on NBC6’s website.

The number of deaths in Puerto Rico that can be attributed to Hurricane Maria has become a politicized subject, so much so that the media and the public they serve seem to have lost sight of a crucially important aspect of the number of fatalities being “reported.” I put that word in quotations because now that the George Washington University study on deaths attributed to the storm is finally out, it’s important for everyone to understand what is being measured here.