New Fellow Helps Track COVID-19 Cases in Puerto Rico

Monday, June 15, 2020

An incoming Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) recipient is a scientific advisor for a volunteer effort to track the spread of coronavirus in his native Puerto Rico.

Danilo Pérez Jr. has compiled COVID-19 statistics and trends for the territory as part of COSACO-PR, a multidisciplinary group of scientific advisors. The organization’s goals, as stated on its Facebook page, are to collect reliable data and studies on the disease in Puerto Rico, to organize and condense them, and to communicate the summaries to help both individuals and organizations make good decisions.

Pérez compiles daily updates, in Spanish, on Puerto Rico’s cases, deaths, hospitalizations and other COVID-19-related statistics. He relies on skills gained as an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, where he worked with mathematical epidemiologist Maytée Cruz-Aponte to generate models of various diseases. He graduated with a chemistry degree in 2017 and since then has worked as a research assistant at the university’s Institute of Neurobiology. Pérez will start his fellowship as a doctoral student in neural science at New York University this Fall.

In a recent Medium post, Pérez countered a Washington Post article that identified Puerto Rico as one of 14 states and territories whose seven-day averages of new coronavirus infections set records. He noted that many of the island’s reported new infections were results from old tests that had not been adequately reported. Nonetheless, Pérez noted, Puerto Rico is not out of the woods and is seeing a plateau of hospitalizations from the disease rather than a decline.

“Fortunately, progress in reducing the severity of COVID-19 cases has been made,” with fewer patients going to intensive care units, Pérez writes.