During the regular weekly COVID-19 update to the Grand County Board of Health/Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), Grand County Coroner Brenda Bock made a definitive statement protesting the state of Colorado’s reporting of COVID-19-related deaths in Grand County.
“It’s not right,” stated Bock, “I believe we do need to stand up, and we do need to get these numbers corrected. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Bock earlier pointed out a discrepancy between the Grand County COVID-19 dashboard and that of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. As of Tuesday morning, Grand County’s online dashboard reported a single COVID-caused death and one other death of an individual who died with COVID-19 but not because of the infectious disease. The CDPHE COVID-19 data dashboard reported five COVID-19 deaths in Grand County.
Bock, an elected official, clarified publicly that, since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there has only been one Grand County resident to die because of COVID-19 infection. She reported an additional two individuals who have died with COVID-19 but from other causes.
Bock read a prepared letter, noting that “The State says that Grand County has five COVID deaths. In researching the numbers, I found the state is counting two deaths that died of gunshot wounds as COVID deaths [referencing the recent murder-suicide victims from Fraser].
“When I questioned the numbers,” the Coroner continued, “the response I got was ‘if they died in the 30 days of their positive test, they are counted as a death among a COVID case.’
“Although the decedents did test positive for COVID, that is not what they died from. The two cases were autopsied, and the cause of death was listed as ‘blunt force Injuries due to a gunshot wound.’ Nowhere did the pathologist say COVID was the cause of death.
“I believe that this is false and very misleading,” concluded Bock. “If we want the public to trust and believe the information being released, we need to make sure it is accurate.
“I realize in the scope of things that Grand County’s numbers are small. Although these numbers are small this ‘error’ creates a 40% increase in our death total. That is not an insignificant amount. How many cases like this does it take to inflate the numbers?
“My job as Grand County Coroner is to make sure the information reported is correct. At this time, the Grand County dashboard does not have this listed on their site. I am working with the State to try to get these numbers removed.”
Grand County Public Health Director Brene Belew-LaDue noted that the State’s reporting method is standard protocol and that all information was then reviewed by the State and the US Center for Disease Control.
“It might be the process, but it’s not right,” responded Bock, “and I strongly stand against that. I have been talking to other Coroners throughout the state and they have been telling me that they’ve had motor vehicle accidents listed as COVID deaths. It’s no different than my gunshot wounds being listed as COVID deaths, and it’s not right.”