Colorado changes how COVID-19 fatalities are publicly reported as coronavirus deaths become political flashpoint
Colorado’s health department changed the way it publicly reports coronavirus deaths Friday, introducing a second category of fatalities after its methods came under scrutiny — including by a state representative who’s calling for the agency’s chief to be investigated.
How COVID-19 deaths are counted has become politically divisive, with critics claiming the numbers are inflated and medical experts saying deaths may actually be undercounted. Still, the number of deaths is a crucial data point that informs public understanding of the pandemic’s severity and health officials’ response to the crisis.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is now clarifying that its death tally includes the total number of fatalities among people who had COVID-19, including those deaths in which the respiratory disease was not the cause of death listed on the death certificate.
By the agency’s count, there were 1,150 people who had died with COVID-19 in their systems as of Thursday.
Unlike that total, which has been updated daily by the agency since the start of the outbreak, death certificate data only shows 878 deaths were caused by the new coronavirus between Feb. 1 and May 9 — but that number is expected to increase as there is a several-week lag.
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