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Colorado State Health Dept. Classified Man Who Died of Alcohol Poisoning as Covid Death, Coroner Claims

Scientists work in a lab testing coronavirus samples at New York City’s health department during the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, April 23, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

A Colorado county coroner says that state officials overruled him in classifying a man who had died from alcohol poisoning as a death due to coronavirus.

The 35-year-old man was found lying dead in a city park in Cortez by police, and Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers determined he had died of acute alcohol poisoning, after finding his blood alcohol concentration at .55, nearly double the amount considered lethal. After the deceased tested positive for coronavirus, Deavers said that state health authorities immediately characterized it as a death due to coronavirus.

“Before the death certificate was singed, they had already listed it as a Covid death,” Deavers told Denver-based CBS4. “I can see no reason for this.” The classification raised Montezuma’s coronavirus death count from two to three. Earlier this month, Cortez requested that the state allow it to reopen some businesses, but was denied. “Our reviewers have some concerns about vulnerabilities in Montezuma County and want to monitor the situation before further considering a variance,” the state health department said in response.

Another CBS4 Investigation last month found that the state health department had reclassified three deaths at a Centennial nursing home as Covid-19 deaths — contradicting the assessments of attending physicians, who ruled that all three were not related to coronavirus.

Deavers said the situation raises questions as to whether the state is intentionally manipulating its Covid statistics.

“It does look like it, whether they are or not, I don’t know,” Deavers admitted. “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.”

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