Colorado Forced to Revise Its Virus Tally After ALCOHOL POISONING Counted as COVID-19 Death
Colorado now says 878, not 1150, have died of Covid in the state
A Republican state representative asked prosecutors to bring criminal charges against Colorado’s top public health official Thursday, claiming that she illegally falsified death records to inflate COVID-19 death totals.
Rep. Mark Baisley (R-Roxborough Park) issued a formal letter requesting an investigation and criminal charges by George Brauchler, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District. Brauchler is also a Republican.
Baisley accuses Jill Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), of “falsely altering death certificates.” CDPHE collects and reports COVID-19 statistics from across Colorado.
“Falsely inflating the number of deaths due to COVID-19 adversely impacts the professional reputation of nursing homes, hospitals and healthcare workers while creating undue fear for families,” Baisley wrote in his letter.
He also provided another letter dated April 17 from the Someren Glen senior care center to its staff, residents, and residents’ families. The Centennial facility’s letter said CPDHE had overruled the cause of death findings by attending physicians in order to list seven deaths as being caused by COVID-19.
“We have never seen a situation where the health department overrules a physician’s findings,” the letter provided by Baisley reads. “However, these are unprecedented times and the health department officials did not share their motivation for changing physician’s orders.”
In a statement to 9Wants to Know on Thursday, CDPHE said the department has used a nationwide standard accepted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to classify deaths.
“We classify a death as confirmed when there was a case who had a positive SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) laboratory test and then died. We also classify some deaths as probable,” their statement said.
That method changed, however, on Friday. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and CDPHE announced that going forward, cases in which people had COVID-19 and died of another cause will be recorded separately from the deaths that were caused by COVID-19.
With the new protocol, state records show 1,150 people died with COVID-19 in their systems as of Friday, and 878 people have died because of the coronavirus. One day prior, state data said there were 1,019 COVID-19 deaths.
“What the people of Colorado want to know is not who died with COVID, but who died of COVID-19,” Polis said in a press conference. “I’ve told [CDPHE] to make sure they’re very clear in their reporting.”
He added there are only a few cases where the official cause of death isn’t clear, and that he considers criminal charges against Ryan to be “completely inappropriate.”
Brauchler told 9NEWS it’s too premature to discuss charges before an investigation, but it is possible that misdemeanor charges could be filed if his office were to find wrongdoing.
Elected Republicans at the local and state level have been critical of public health leaders throughout the pandemic.
Baisley previously signed on to an effort encouraging Douglas County to break ties with Tri-County Health Department after its public health leaders suggested a stay-home order.
Prior criticism from Republicans at the state legislature had focused on policy decisions. Baisley’s letter is the first formal accusation of criminal wrongdoing by Colorado’s public health officials.
When police in Cortez, Colorado were called to Cortez City Park early on the morning of May 4, they found Sebastian Yellow, 35, lying on the ground and called it out as a code “Frank,” meaning Yellow had died, according to a police report obtained by CBS4.
Within a week, local Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers determined Yellow had died of acute alcohol poisoning, his blood alcohol measured at .55, nearly twice the lethal limit.
“It was almost double what the minimum lethal amount was in the state”, said Deavers, during an interview with CBS4.
But Deavers said that before he even signed the death certificate, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had already categorized Yellow’s death as being due to COVID-19 and it was tabulated that way on the state’s website.
“I can see no reason for this”, said Deavers.
Yellow’s death is the latest in Colorado raising eyebrows over the way the CDPHE is reclassifying deaths that runs contrary to what doctors and coroners initially ruled.
Last month, a CBS4 Investigation revealed the state health department reclassified three deaths at a Centennial nursing home as COVID-19 deaths, despite the fact attending physicians ruled all three were not related to coronavirus.
In each case, the residents had tested positive for COVID-19, but in each case, on-scene doctors ruled the deaths were not related to the virus. Still, in their official tally, the state increased the number of coronavirus deaths at the Someren Glen facility from four to seven, based on the disputed deaths.
On Thursday, state Rep. Mark Baisley, a Republican representing Douglas and Teller Counties, wrote a letter to District Attorney George Brauchler of the 18th Judicial District, asking for a criminal investigation into the reclassification of the Someren Glen deaths and criminal charges against Jill Ryan, the director of the state health department. Baisley wrote that what occurred was “deliberate acts of certificate falsification” and said Baisley, ”I believe these acts of falsely altering death certificates to be criminal acts of tremendous concern to you and my constituents. I hereby request that you investigate this matter with the intent of bringing criminal charges against Jill Ryan.”
Now Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers finds himself in a similar situation in southwestern Colorado, officially ruling Yellow’s death as “ethanol toxicity” but seeing the state record it differently.
“They should have to be recording the same way I do. They have to go off the truth and facts and list it as such,” said Deavers.
He said following Yellow’s death, the man was tested for COVID-19 since he had been associating with someone who was positive for the virus, and the information can be useful in tracking the path of the virus. Deavers said that test on Yellow came back positive, but the coroner insists that had nothing to do with Yellow’s death. In fact, Deavers says a secondary cause was cirrohsis of the liver.
“It wasn’t COVID, it was alcohol toxicity,” said Deavers.”Yes, he did have COVID but that is not what took his life.”
Deavers said he has been calling officials at the CDPHE this week to understand why they classified Yellow’s death as related to the virus, but he said as of Thursday morning, he had not yet received an explanation. He said in Cortez, citizens are wondering what’s going on.
“They’re thinking the state is trying to inflate numbers which it does look like it, whether they are or not, I don’t know,” said Deavers. He said some have suggested, “They’re trying to make it look like its worse than it really is, I don’t know if that’s what their intentions are. Maybe they’re trying to do it for some of the two trillion budgeted in for the COVID.”
Source: CBS Denver