05-15-20 Colorado: State explains COVID-19 death data reporting Additional death data to be presented in dashboard

Colorado: State explains COVID-19 death data reporting Additional death data to be presented in dashboard

(Denver, Colo., May 15, 2020) The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) today explained the way it has been counting deaths among people with COVID-19 and announced an addition to data reporting going forward.

CDPHE explained that to date, its data dashboard included deaths among all people who had COVID-19 at the time of death. This included deaths caused by COVID-19 and deaths among people who had COVID-19 at the time of death, but the cause or causes may not have been attributed to COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is the standard way states report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Going forward, the state will present both numbers: Deaths among COVID-19 cases and deaths due to COVID-19. Data is available on the dashboard available at covid19.colorado.gov/data/case-data. As of May 15, the state reported 1,150 deaths among people who have COVID-19. The number of deaths confirmed to have been caused by COVID-19 is 878 as of May 9, as reported by the CDC. It is important to note that the data reported on the dashboard up to this point, and to CDC, is shared for disease surveillance and tracking purposes. It is separate from the state official death records, which are maintained through death certificates.

The state also emphasized that it does not unilaterally change information on death certificates and does not question or try to change a physician’s diagnosis or causes-of-death determination.

“Every single death is tragic, regardless of the circumstances,” said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer at CDPHE. “We know this virus can be deadly and can complicate other serious medical conditions and hasten death. As public health practitioners, we need to look at data that helps us understand disease transmission and protect people.”

“We understand it is confusing that there are different systems and ways of counting deaths. It’s important to understand the difference between the official cause of death and the list of deaths among COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist.

At 7 p.m., the State Capitol, along with cities, counties and other organizations, will be turning their building lights red to honor those who have fallen victim to this deadly virus. The state is encouraging buildings and businesses across the state to turn their lights red at 7 p.m. and for police and fire departments to turn their lights on at 7 p.m. for one minute. Coloradans can participate by wearing a mask or face covering and observe a moment of silence at 7 p.m. Coloradans are also encouraged to post on social media to raise awareness about the remembrance event.

The slides from today’s media availability are available here.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

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Colorado State Joint Information Center