Here is the Governor of Puerto Rico confirming the death toll of 16 people on Oct 3, 2017. About the 8:30 mark.
While the number undoubtedly increased, it was a number stated by the governor of Puerto Rico at that time.
To add to the discussion, read this article by Ben Shapiro, titled, Trump Denies That The Death Toll From Hurricane Maria Was 3,000. Here’s Where The Number Came From.
As usual, Ben can’t resist making snide remarks about our President, but the article is worth reading for the statistics. There are various estimates of deaths, and they are all over the map. Also included is this:
So, how was the count from Puerto Rico actually obtained? It was an approximation, not a list of names, according to Governor Ricardo Rossello. He stated the number could increase or decrease over time. George Washington University released a study based on “excess deaths” over the normal death rate at that particular time of year:
Our excess mortality study analyzed past mortality patterns (mortality registration and population census data from 2010 to 2017) in order to predict the expected mortality if Hurricane María had not occurred (predicted mortality) and compare this figure to the actual deaths that occurred (observed mortality).
They estimated “total excess mortality” at 2,975 – and that has become the government count. The Puerto Rican government had already increased its body count to 1,427 in early September, estimating deaths in the four months after the storm.
But Lynn Goldman, dean of the university’s Milken Institute of Public Health, which ran the study, admitted, “among all the deaths that occurred, which of them were related to Maria, which of them would not have occurred if it hadn’t been for the storm? We’re not able to say that now.”