Lin-Manuel Miranda continues to call out President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to tell them that Puerto Rico is still in trouble, and now there is a severe health crisis, and people are dying. Miranda has used Twitter to beg Trump to aid Puerto Rico like he aided Houston and Florida, but now the situation has grown dire. Medicine like insulin for diabetics is in short supply as refrigeration depends on electricity, and Miranda continues to beg Trump for help.
Now, Lin-Manuel Miranda is warning Donald Trump that “history has its eyes on you,” which is a line straight from Miranda’s blockbuster play, Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda is telling Trump that it isn’t just the people watching him, but history will judge him by the way he aids Puerto Rico, and Trump needs to know that.
Lin-Manuel Miranda has put his money where his mouth is by gathering Puerto Rican artists to participate in what he calls “a love song for Puerto Rico.” Miranda was born in New York, but both of his parents are from Puerto Rico. Miranda explains that the idea to write a song to raise money for Puerto Rico hurricane relief. He was thrilled that everyone he asked to participate said yes. Miranda explains that the summers he spent in Puerto Rico are etched in his memory.
“[I] called every Puerto Rican I know [to sing on the song]. To every artist, I’ve said, ‘Can you help out on this song?’ And they said yes. Without even hearing the song, everyone’s joined in.”
One of the points that he is trying to stress when Lin-Manuel Miranda warns Donald Trump by saying “history has its eyes on you,” is that even this long after the hurricane, people are still dying, Americans are dying. Wired is calling the emergency in Puerto Rico a “slow motion medical disaster” as people are barely hanging on without the supplies they need to survive, and Trump can help by focusing on electricity.
Hurricane Maria left 16 Puerto Ricans dead, but health experts anticipate that the number will climb in the coming days, weeks, and months because the island doesn’t have the basic medication and supplies needed to manage chronic illnesses. Roads are blocked, supplies are stuck at the ports, only 70 percent of the island’s hospitals are open, and generators are out of diesel fuel. Miranda is urging Trump to put his daily attention on Puerto Rico to prevent additional deaths.
Puerto Rico had a thriving pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, which accounts for 30 percent of Puerto Rico’s GDP and provides 90,000 of the island’s jobs. All of this ground to a halt when the storm hit. FDA administrator Scott Gottlieb is trying to move production to the mainland U.S., but in the meantime, there will be shortages of shortages of cancer drugs, immunosuppressant drugs for transplant patients, and medical devices for diabetes patients, which will impact those on and off of Puerto Rico.
A former federal emergency response official who asked not to be identified said that in the short term, refrigeration is the huge factor because many critical medications need to stay cold at an optimal 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Insulin, tetanus shots, and flu shots all require refrigeration. Diabetics on the island require daily insulin; those who received cuts while digging out from Hurricane Maria frequently need a tetanus shot, and to avoid an overwhelming outbreak of the flu, those with chronic illnesses should receive a flu vaccine.
“Refrigeration and cold storage are really big issues and will be for the foreseeable future.”
One-fifth of those over sixty in Puerto Rico have a chronic illness that needs regular care. A major medical crisis is a need for dialysis. Lt. Cmdr. Garrett Martin-Yeboah of the US Public Health Service and the National Clinical Pharmacist at the Department of Health and Human Service’s Assistant Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response says dialysis patients are at the top of the list of those in need of care.
“They are on a good number of prescription medications. Because of the volume of medications and tenuousness of their condition, those are some of the patients we are concerned about.”
None of these problems and concerns will be solved with a short-term fix, and the death toll will continue to rise, according to Lin-Manuel Miranda and others.
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The lack of electricity in Puerto Rico is directly tied to the humanitarian crisis and the health crisis that is plaguing the island, and Lin-Manuel Miranda and others who have a platform to put the message on blast to Donald Trump and Mike Pence are trying to convey this fact. Electricity is not only needed for dialysis and the refrigeration of insulin, but it is needed for asthma patients who require a nebulizer. But electricity is also needed for sanitation to avoid diseases like typhus and typhoid fever.
Writer Julia Belluz stresses that even those in good health are getting sick.
“Across Puerto Rico, people need electricity to get clean water from the faucet and flush the toilet. They also need it to keep their air conditioning systems running. Without it, there’s the looming risk of people getting sick from dirty water, waste that can’t be disposed [of], or heatstroke.”
Do you think Lin-Manuel Miranda is right that history has its eyes on Donald Trump and the way he is approaching the health crisis in Puerto Rico?
[Featured Image by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images]