UPDATED 7:59 AM PT — Monday, May 18, 2020
Colorado has lowered its coronavirus death toll from more than 1,100 to 878. The state’s Department of Health and Environment made the recent change to its statistics after clarifying the difference between those who died due to COVID-19 and those who died of other causes, but were also infected at the time.
“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,” said Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).
For example, a resident in Montezuma County who had tested positive for COVID-19 died last week and the county coroner classified it as “coronavirus-related.” However, their death certificate said they died of ethanol toxicity also known as alcohol poisoning.
“I’ve told the Department of Health to be very clear in their reporting,” Polis explained. “Nobody behind a desk should ever second guess a coroner or an attending physician that lists the cause of death on a certificate.”
As a result of the updated statistics, a state legislator decided to file criminal charges against Colorado’s top health official. In a letter to the state’s district attorney, Rep. Mark Baisley (R) accused Health Department director Jill Ryan of “falsely altering death certificate numbers” and intentionally inflating the total number for COVID-19 deaths.
The Health Department responded to the accusations by stating they are “disappointed” Baisley chose to “advance a false narrative” and clarified they do not “change or falsify death certificates.”
“They have to report that higher number to the CDC…they have to report under federal guidelines…this is what they tell me,” Polis continued. “…the number that had COVID and died, but we should also make public to people that died from COVID and I’m gonna make sure they do that.”
The Democrat governor went on to say he does not want the issue to be politicized and only wants to encourage others to use real figures.