Gov. Polis gives Friday, May 15 update on Colorado coronavirus response


DENVER — Gov. Polis today updated Coloradans on the state’s response to coronavirus and discussed how Colorado communities are coming together in a day of remembrance for the Coloradans lost to COVID-19. 

Polis traveled to Washington D.C. Wednesday to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House. The leaders discussed testing, infection levels, supplies, and what Colorado has done to reopen the state.

“It is important to remember that those we have lost are more than just numbers on a bulletin, or a statistic, or an obituary in the local newspaper. Every person we have lost to this horrible pandemic has a story and a community of loved ones in mourning. It’s on all of us to come together to support each other during these times of such agonizing grief,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “It remains critical that we all do our part: wear a mask when leaving the house, wash our hands frequently, and continue staying home as much as possible. If we all do our part, we can help protect ourselves, our neighbors, those who are vulnerable, and the front lines workers who are trying to keep us safe.”


Friday is also Peace Officers Memorial Day, which honors the critically important law enforcement officers who put themselves on the line to protect their communities.

Colorado is commemorating this day by lowering flags to half staff from sunrise to sunset. Now more than ever, Colorado first responders and officers on the front lines are crucial to protecting public health and safety. 

The Governor also took a moment to thank senior care facility workers who work with seniors and other vulnerable populations. 

Polis announced that the state joined a letter to the federal government requesting that ski resorts can access relief funds like the Paycheck Protection Program.

Many of Colorado’s prestigious ski areas have been denied loans because the workforce is seasonal, though seasonal workers are even more vulnerable to an economic crisis like the one Colorado is experiencing. Colorado’s tourism and outdoor recreation industries are a crucial part of the state’s economy. 

The Boettcher Foundation has approved more than $1 million in biomedical research grants for several of Colorado’s top research hospitals and universities, including:

  • University of Colorado
  • Colorado State University
  • Children’s Hospital
  • And National Jewish

Biomedical research is a top public health priority for response, treatment, and future pandemic prevention, and Colorado is proud to have this life-saving work done in Colorado.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Friday explained the way it has been counting deaths among people with COVID-19 and announced an addition to data reporting going forward. 

CDPHE explained that to date, its data dashboard included deaths among all people who had COVID-19 at the time of death. This included deaths caused by COVID-19 and deaths among people who had COVID-19 at the time of death, but the cause or causes may not have been attributed to COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is the standard way states report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Going forward, the state will present both numbers: Deaths among COVID-19 cases and deaths due to COVID-19. Data is available on the dashboard available at

As of May 15, the state reported 1,150 deaths among people who have COVID-19. The number of deaths confirmed to have been caused by COVID-19 is 878 as of May 9, as reported by the CDC. It is important to note that the data reported on the dashboard up to this point, and to CDC, is shared for disease surveillance and tracking purposes. It is separate from the state official death records, which are maintained through death certificates.

The state also emphasized that it does not unilaterally change information on death certificates and does not question or try to change a physician’s diagnosis or causes-of-death determination.

“Every single death is tragic, regardless of the circumstances,” said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer at CDPHE. “We know this virus can be deadly and can complicate other serious medical conditions and hasten death. As public health practitioners, we need to look at data that helps us understand disease transmission and protect people.”

“We understand it is confusing that there are different systems and ways of counting deaths. It’s important to understand the difference between the official cause of death and the list of deaths among COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist.

>> More coverage of coronavirus in Colorado

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