Both of Puerto Rico's 911 call centers were shut down Wednesday night after several employees tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced.
Public Safety Secretary Pedro Janer said people should call the island's emergency management agency at 787-724-0124 or police at 787-343-2020 in an emergency. He said both agencies are operating 24 hours a day. However, people calling the first number that Janer provided get a recording asking them to call 911 for an emergency. Then the recording provided callers with a directory.
"This is serious," Nazario Lugo, president of Puerto Rico's Association of Emergency Managers, told The Associated Press. He said he was shocked at the government's temporary plan to handle emergencies in the U.S. territory of 3.2 million people.
Lugo said officials should relay 911 calls through to another number, rather than forcing people to call a long number that they would have to read or hear about on the news.
Kiara Hernández, a spokeswoman for the Public Safety Department, said she could not immediately comment on why officials were unable to automatically route emergency calls to another number.