George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health defended its study on Hurricane Maria-related mortality rates in Puerto Rico on Thursday after President Trump falsely said on Twitter that an estimated death toll of around 3,000 was manufactured by Democrats who wanted to make him look bad.
The study by George Washington's public health school found 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico in September 2017.
"Researchers at the Milken Institute SPH in collaboration with scientists at the University of Puerto Rico Graduate School of Public Health analyzed mortality, via use of death certificates and related information, from September 2017 through the end of February 2018," the Milken Institute School of Public Health said in its statement on the study, which can be read online here. "Using a state-of-the-art mathematical model, the team compared the total number of deaths during that time to the expected number based on historical patterns as well as age, sex, socioeconomic status and migration from the island."
"This study, commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference," the statement continues.
"Our results show that Hurricane Maria was a very deadly storm, one that affected the entire island but hit the poor and the elderly the hardest. We are confident that the number -- 2,975 -- is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date."
Trump's tweets about the Hurricane Maria death toll were sent Thursday morning as Hurricane Florence was approaching the Carolinas.