Bill Nelson is imploring the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to step up their efforts in Puerto Rico, “before more people die and this becomes a full-blown crisis.”

In a letter to acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan, Florida’s senior U.S. Senator responds to news reports in The New York Times and warns that the continued lack of power and potable water to much of the island residents, its hospitals, and other critical life-support institutions such as dialysis centers, contaminated floodwaters, and other hazards “are placing thousands of residents at risk of infection, and even death.”

“While I understand the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is sending personnel and resources to Puerto Rico, this article made clear that it is not enough,” Nelson wrote in the letter. “The situation is not improving, and Americans are dying. I have raised this issue with your agency before, and I urge you now to take immediate steps to prevent further loss of life.

“I implore you to partner with the island to ensure that priority locations like dialysis centers and hospitals have access to adequate supplies of diesel, personnel, and medication, and have power restored as soon as possible,” Nelson continued.

Nelson also urged better coordination between HHS and other federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration, to move supplies to where they are needed.

“The actions mentioned above only scratch the surface of what needs to be done,” Nelson concluded. “I urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to act before more people die and this becomes a full-blown crisis.”


About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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