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H.R. 6048: COUNT Victims Act

Giovanna Guerrero-Medina's picture

Requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to contract with the National Academy of Medicine within 90 days of the passage of the act to study best practices for mortality counts after major disasters.


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Legislative Body: 

US House

Relevance to PR: 

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, the death count was originally listed as 64. Yet a George Washington University study from September 2018, from researchers at the school’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, estimated the actual death count as 2,975. The significantly higher number was determined by including deaths caused by the hurricane as a result of lack of access to health services, prolonged precarious conditions or other consequences of the hurricane on people's wellbeing. The Federal government has not yet accepted the new death count. This act would provide funds for a National Academy of Medicine study and force FEMA to work with scientists to determine the best way to count deaths after a natural disaster. Hence, Puerto Rico's experience with death counts after Hurricane María would inform best practices for all jurisdictions.

Current Status: 

The text of this bill was incorporated in full into HR 302 the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which was passed on October 3, 2018 and signed by the President on October 5, 2018

Suggested action: 

  • Let's make sure FEMA conducts the study: call the following number (1-800-621-3362) before January 5, 2018 to ask if they have already established a contract with the National Academy of Medicine.
  • Help nominate experts to participate as part of the NAM committee. Contact NAM at 202-334-2000 or to find out about the committee and provide suggestions.