Colorado Changes The Way Coronavirus Deaths Are Reported To The Public

May 18, 2020

After a state representative and a rural county coroner raised questions about the way Colorado is reporting COVID-19 deaths, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment said Friday it has changed its practices.

The difference? As of Friday, Colorado now has 878 death certificates showing the death was due to COVID-19. But the state has reported 1,150 deaths as having occurred "among" people with COVID-19. In nearly every case, the individual tested positive for the disease before death.

This requires some explaining.

When a person dies, the attending physician or county coroner fills out and signs a death certificate listing a cause of death, and the factors that contributed to that death. The process is straightforward and forms the basis of the vital records maintained by the state.

But not all states keep their records the same way.

So when a novel disease like COVID-19 comes along, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention like to track the toll from that disease in a way that eliminates differences between state reporting systems.

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