State Watch

Colorado lowers coronavirus death count from more than 1K to 878

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) made significant changes to the way it counts COVID-19 deaths, lowering the state’s total fatalities from the virus from more than 1,000 to 878.

Denver-based Fox affiliate KDVR reported on the changes Friday following updates to statistical guidelines from CDPHE’s chief medical officer, Eric France.

The health department’s changes now list 1,150 Colorado residents who died had the coronavirus, although only 878 of those fatalities were a result of the infections.

“We have been reporting at the state deaths among people who had COVID-19 at the time of death and the cause of that death may or may not have been COVID-19,” France said, adding, “We started to hear stories about ‘Are these correct or are these incorrect?'”

The Montezuma County coroner told KDVR that one man who reportedly had COVID-19 died from alcohol poisoning but was registered by the state as a virus-related fatality.

France attributed the misallocations in COVID-19-related fatalities to how the state reports deaths by providing statistics to the federal National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, the report added.

According to the state’s policy, it does not “unilaterally change information on death certificates and does not question or try to change a physician’s diagnosis or causes-of-death determination.”

“Having these two systems in place has potentially created some confusion, and we apologize for that,” Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, said in the press release.

KDVR reported that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’s (D) office released a statement Friday about COVID-19 case reporting confusion.

“The Governor applauds efforts to ensure that we are as transparent as possible with our reporting and therefore fully supports efforts by CDPHE to specify how many deaths are specifically due to COVID-19 and not just specific to [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines that include people who died with Coronavirus but not necessarily from it,” the statement said.

The statement added that current COVID-19 fatality data includes only information gathered through May 9, adding, “State epidemiologists believe that once the data is up to date, then the number will, unfortunately, be higher.”

Tags Colorado Coronavirus COVID-19 Jared Polis

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