NEWS & ANALYSIS

Colorado Officials Warn About Skewed COVID-19 Death Toll


Public officials in Colorado say the state’s COVID-19 death toll is inflated due to grouping those who have died from the disease in with those who simply tested positive for it prior to death. 

Indeed, health officials have long struggled to divide those two key groups in government tallies of COVID deaths. 

Colorado officials said they had personally observed death tolls that were misleading to the public, Just the News reports. 

Brenda Bock, the county coroner for Grand County, told Sharyl Attkisson that in November, she processed a murder-suicide case “and the very next day it showed up on the state website as COVID death.” 

“They were gunshot wounds,” she said. “And I questioned that immediately because I had not even signed the death certificates yet, and the state was already reporting them as COVID deaths.” 

Bock said that authorities even counted two individuals who were alive. 

“Two of them were actually still alive,” she said, “and yet they were counting them. Had I not called them out on it and asked them who those were, where they were from, all the information about it – and it’s like ‘Oh, well that was a typo. They just got put in there by accident.” 

Similarly, James Caruso, chief medical examiner and coroner in Denver, has heard similar stories statewide. 

“I was told by some of my fellow coroners in the more rural counties in Colorado that it was happening to them, that they knew of issues where they had signed out a death certificate with perhaps trauma involved,” Caruso told Attkisson. “And they were being advised that it was being counted as a COVID-related death.” 

“I think early on, the people signing the death certificates probably were doing it accurately,” he continued. “But at some level – maybe the state level, maybe the federal level – there’s a possibility that they were cross-referencing COVID tests. And that people who tested positive for COVID were listed as a COVID-related death, regardless of their true cause of death. And I believe that’s very erroneous, and not the way the statistics needed to be accumulated.” 

“I believe [the numbers] are very inflated,” Bock said. “And don’t get me wrong. I believe COVID is real. And I believe people do get very sick from it. And I do believe a small number do die from that.” 

But, she said, “I do not believe a homicide-suicide belongs in that number. I don’t. I don’t believe car accidents belong in those numbers. I think the numbers are skewed. And I think that it is my job to tell the truth.”