Source: full measure
As hindsight comes into clearer focus, we’re learning a lot about mistaken advice and policies amid the Covid-19 pandemic. One still murky and disputed area involves the death toll, now upwards of 640,000 in the U.S., according to CDC. Some insist the true count is much higher; others claim it’s lower. Today, we begin with the startling results of our investigation that found in some documented cases, news that Covid was the cause of death was greatly exaggerated.
Grand County, Colorado, rural country a hundred miles outside of Denver.
Thanksgiving 2020, Lucais Reilly shoots his wife Kristin in the head, then turns the gun on himself, committing suicide. They have alcohol and drugs in their system and a history of domestic troubles.
Grand County coroner Brenda Bock explains how the small town tragedy is exposing serious questions about the way Covid deaths are counted.
Brenda Bock: I had a homicide-suicide the end of November, and the very next day it showed up on the state website as Covid deaths. And they were gunshot wounds. And I questioned that immediately because I had not even signed off the death certificates yet, and the state was already reporting them as Covid deaths.
Bock says somebody, somewhere had apparently run the couple’s names through a database showing they’d tested positive for Covid within 28 days of their death. Then recorded them as Covid deaths even though they died of gunshots.
Sharyl: If we look at the death certificates for the murder-suicide case, what will it say about Covid?
Bock: Nothing, absolutely nothing. I paid a forensic pathologist to do the autopsies on those two cases. And nowhere is COVID mentioned on those death certificates. Nowhere.
Bock: This is a copy of the death certificate, and nowhere does it say COVID. So we have a homicide, suicide, nothing to do with COVID.
Because there had been no Covid deaths within the geographic boundaries of Grand County in 2020, Bock was in a unique position to challenge the state’s accounting. In many cities and counties, the numbers are too big and the coroners would never know about discrepancies.
Within a week of the murder-suicide, two more Grand County deaths popped up on the state’s Covid count. Bock investigated and found out why she had no record of them.
Bock: Two of them were actually still alive, and yet they were counting them. Had I not called them on it and asked them who those were, where were they from, all the information about it and it’s like, “Oh, well that was a typo. They just got put in there by accident.”
Merrit Linke: The coroner did officially talk to us at one of our regular Tuesday County Commission meetings about this discrepancy in how the state was reporting our COVID numbers.
Merrit Linke is chair of the Grand County Board of Commissioners.
Linke: We drafted and signed a letter, all three Commissioners, and the coroner also signed, and sent it to the governor, saying “Hey, these numbers are not correct. It’s not right. We should report these correctly, and please fix this.”