COVID-19 death statistics may be inflated by states adding murders, auto accident fatalities to list: report

A new report is raising questions about the accuracy of coronavirus death statistics, suggesting that the number of deaths from COVID-19 reported in the United States might be inflated.

Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson spoke with Brenda Bock, the coroner of Grand County, Colorado, in the most recent episode of her syndicated newsmagazine program “Full Measure,” which aired Sunday. In the program, coroners explained that the state was listing fatalities caused by gunshot wounds and vehicle crashes as deaths from the coronavirus. 

Attkisson opened the segment by noting that on Thanksgiving Day last year, a man named Lucias Reilly shot and his wife, Kristin, in the head before turning his gun on himself. Both of their deaths were listed as being caused by the coronavirus, not a fatal shooting.

While Bock had ruled the Reillys’ causes of death as a homicide and suicide, she told Attkisson that “the very next day it showed up on the state website as COVID deaths.”

“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,” she said.

Bock alleged that someone ran the Reillys’ names through a database, which showed that they had tested positive for coronavirus within 28 days of their death. Coronavirus was recorded as their cause of death even though Bock had concluded otherwise.

Attkisson asked Bock, “If we look at the death certificates for the murder-suicide case, what will it say about COVID?” Bock responded by saying, “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.”

Within a week of the murder-suicide, Bock discovered that according to the state’s coronavirus database, Grand County had recorded two additional coronavirus deaths. Upon further investigation, she realized that “two of them were actually still alive, and yet they were counting them.”

Bock recalled that when “she called them on it,” state officials described the error as a “typo” and stressed that “they just got put in there by accident.” Attkisson also talked to Dr. James Caruso, the chief medical examiner and coroner for Colorado’s capital and largest city,  Denver.

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