How to Count the Victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Controversy flares over how many Puerto Ricans died because of Hurricane Maria. On May 29, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article arguing that Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Safety misreported the number of deaths as 64 people on December 9, 2017. Instead, the researchers estimated that roughly 4,645 people died, from September 20 until December 31st.

Since they work at Harvard and other top institutions, their article caused a media storm. As a Puerto Rican professor of history, I was stunned by the…