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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis pushed back against recent coronavirus death counts, including those conducted by the CDC, days after his own state’s health department acknowledged that their numbers had been inflated by including people who had the virus but died from other causes.
Colorado had previously said 1,150 people had died from COVID-19, but late Friday officials changed that number to 878.
“The CDC criteria include anybody who has died with COVID-19, but what the people of Colorado and the people of the country want to know is how many people died of COVID-19,” Polis told “Fox News Sunday.”
Inconsistencies in death counts have been happening on both the state and national level. As of Friday, Johns Hopkins University data counted 85,974 national COVID-19 deaths, while the CDC was reporting 83,947 that same day. There has been concern that even the CDC’s lower number may be artificially high.
Three administration officials said Dr.Deborah Birx, the task force response coordinator, has pushed for the CDC to exclude from the death count some who were presumed infected but did not have a confirmed lab result and those who had the virus but might not have died as a direct result of it, according to the Daily Beast.
At the same time, however, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said during testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Tuesday that he believes the coronavirus death toll is “almost certainly higher” than currently being reported.
Polis recognized Sunday “that of course there’s likely cases that should be counted as COVID deaths that people have missed, doctors have missed.”
Regardless of the discrepancies, Polis said he does not want this to be a political issue.
“No, in fact, one of the reasons we wanted to make sure we reported it out in a better way was to inspire confidence so that it wouldn’t be politicized,” Polis said. “These are deaths that should not be politicized.”
Fox News’ Robert Gearty contributed to this report.