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Coroner Jeff Graf reported that a patient of the Columbine Manor Care Center in Salida has died. Though the patient had tested positive for COVID-19, the 92-year-old man, died in a hospital of other conditions.

Under new procedures announced by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, officials are tracing death data related to the coronavirus pandemic known as COVID-19 a bit differently. They are separating whether death involves infection from the coronavirus, versus deaths that occur not directly caused by COVID-19, even if the deceased had tested positive.

Columbine Care Center in Salida. Photo by Dan Smith

An outbreak of the virus at Columbine Manor during the pandemic has resulted in COVID-19 infections among staff as well as many patients. Columbine Manor has been the source of 15 of the 17 virus-related deaths recorded in the county.

Graf said the latest victim had tested positive for the virus, was sent to a hospital for treatment, but died of other unspecified conditions.

The method used by the state to report virus deaths changed last Friday, when Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and CDPHE announced that in the future, cases in which people had COVID-19 and died of another cause will be recorded separately from the deaths that were directly caused by COVID-19.

On Thursday, 9News in Denver reported that under the new protocols, state records show 1,150 people died with COVID-19 in their systems as of last Friday, and 878 people have died because of the coronavirus. One day prior, state data said there were 1,019 COVID-19 deaths.

Some Republicans in Colorado have been critical of how public health officials are handling the pandemic crisis.

One right-wing Douglas County Republican accused state health officials of changing physicians’ death records to inflate COVID-19 statistics. That same official, Mark Baisley of Roxborough Park, also joined an effort to encourage Douglas County officials to break ties with the Tri-County Health Department after it suggested stay-at-home orders similar to those in effect statewide, to prevent spreading coronavirus infections in the community.