One State Amends Coronavirus Death Count and the Numbers Are Significantly Lower

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Posted: May 16, 2020 1:45 PM
One State Amends Coronavirus Death Count and the Numbers Are Significantly Lower

Source: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

From the start of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, one of the concerns was how the death count was being tallied. White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said last month that the United States is taking a "liberal approach" to counting coronavirus deaths. Instead of only counting those who died as a result of the virus, they are counting everyone who died who had tested positive, even if their death was unrelated to the virus.

"The intent is right now if someone dies with COVID-19, we're counting that as a COVID-19 death," Birx said at the time. "There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition and let's say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem. Some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death."

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) was one of those that had padded its data by counting everyone who died and tested positive for the virus as a COVID-related death.

The state had previously said 1,150 people died as a result of the Wuhan coronavirus. After taking out the deaths that weren't attributed to the virus itself, that number now sits at 878.

“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,” Dr. Eric France, CDPHE’s chief medical officer said Friday

The announcement comes after the Montezuma County Health Department let people know that a 35-year-old died from alcohol poisoning but the state slapped the coronavirus label on his death because he previously had the virus. 

“The state is reporting that death as a COVID death, but our health department wanted to let people know that even though the person did have the virus, they did not die from it,” the health department said, according to Fox News.

According to Dr. France, the confusion has to do with having two systems of reporting taking place. There's the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System that states use to report Wuhan coronavirus deaths to the CDC.

People across the country have wondered about how accurate the death toll actually is because of the way states are counting deaths. What happened in Montezuma County is a prime example of what Dr. Birx warned about and why the virus' death toll may be lower than currently believed.

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