But Trump, whose efforts to help the island territory recover have been persistently criticized, has repeatedly questioned that number over the last couple of days.
Trump caused outrage this week when he said without any evidence the 3,000 death toll was a move by Democrats to make him look "as bad as possible".
Even some Republicans suggested the president had gone too far. She took to the pages of the Washington Post to assure everyone that their study "was carried out with no interference whatsoever from any political party or institution".
Especially upset were GOP politicians in Florida, a state with a substantial Puerto Rican population.
Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora has blasted President Donald Trump for disputing the Hurricane Maria death toll, calling his actions "disrespectful". The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. "We are going to return those waters", he said. The President has disputed this, leading to all sorts of acrimony, including the recent decision by House Hispanic Caucus to snub an invitation to the White House.
"When was it on Hurricane Maria that the people started [dying], was it when the power went out?"
Hostin blamed the Jones Act, saying it allowed the US government to "pillage and rape" the island since its inception in 1920, before asking why Trump didn't have an equal reaction to Maria as President Obama did to Haiti, which isn't even a USA territory. The study said the original estimates were so low because doctors on the island had not been trained to properly classify deaths after a natural disaster.
Trump's comment renewed criticism of the government's response to two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico a year ago.
The number of almost 3,000 was released last month after an independent study by the George Washington University (GWU) in July, which was commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico. "If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list".
The deaths fell in two categories: direct and indirect.
George Washington University researchers stood by their study, responding to Trump's tweet by saying the study was carried out "with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference". Initial government reports showed that there were 64 deaths related to the storm. "Obviously with Maria, we had not a supply issue, we had distribution issues", he said during a briefing about Hurricane Florence. We are committed to the health of the population.
Massachusetts, the state with the second largest number of evacuee families after Florida, will allow families with children and people with medical conditions to remain in hotels temporarily on the state's dime, said Gina Plata-Nino, an attorney with the Central West Justice Center. Previous reports from the Puerto Rican government said the number was closer to 1,400.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told CBS New York on Thursday that the government had sought the study and "tried to make this process a completely independent process". "We all knew - without a doubt - that the death-toll had to be in the thousands instead of the 18 initially reported".
The Democratic lawmakers called on the administration to support more funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as back a formal review into what went wrong.
Trump reignited the controversy around the USA government's management of the disaster when he said Tuesday it was an "incredible, unsung success".