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Coronavirus deaths in Colorado leap to 227 as health officials say peak has been delayed

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the big increase was due to delayed reporting

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. (Provided by the CDC)
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Colorado reported 33 new coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, bringing the total to 227.

That’s the largest single-day increase in reported deaths, surpassing the 29 new deaths that were reported on Tuesday. But health officials say not to view the jump as an alarming spike.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the increase was actually due to delayed reporting.

“You’ll notice a large spike in today’s case summary for Colorado,” the agency said on Twitter. “This is due to cases and deaths that occurred days and weeks prior, but not reported to the state until today.”

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

The grim update comes despite public health officials’ assurances that the state’s social distancing measures — like Gov. Jared Polis’ statewide stay-at-home order — are working and that the peak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has been delayed until at least May.

“The updated information really leads us to believe that we have pushed the peak into May — at least — at this point,” said Scott Bookman, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s incident commander. “We’re still trying to gather more accurate information to understand exactly when it will happen. But the social distancing has worked.”

The deaths per county are:

COVID-19 IN COLORADO

The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:

  • MAP: Cases and deaths in Colorado.
  • TESTINGHere’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
  • VACCINE HOTLINE: Get up-to-date information.

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  • Denver — 38
  • Weld County County — 36
  • El Paso County — 32
  • Jefferson County — 25
  • Arapahoe County — 24
  • Adams County — 16
  • Douglas County — 10
  • Larimer County — 9
  • Boulder County — 7
  • Eagle County — 5
  • Montrose County — 3
  • Gunnison County — 2
  • Pueblo County — 2
  • Pitkin County — 2
  • Chaffee County — 3
  • Broomfield County — 2
  • Alamosa County — 2
  • Garfield County — 2
  • Teller County — 1
  • Elbert County — 1
  • Out of state — 1
  • Montezuma County — 1
  • Crowley County — 1
  • Delta County — 1
  • Ouray — 1

The number of confirmed cases in Colorado ballooned to more than 6,200 on Thursday. About 1,200 of those are or have been hospitalized, an increase of about 25 over Wednesday.

The state doesn’t release information on people who are discharged from the hospital.

Officials say there may actually be tens of thousands of people infected but that because of limited testing resources they have not been identified.

Bookman admits that the state’s limited testing — first responders, medical workers and critically ill patients are generally the only people who can get a screening — makes it difficult to predict the disease’s future spread.

“We acknowledge that the limitations in testing provide us with a lack of true clarity on what is happening,” he said. “We are always looking at the trends to understand what direction things are heading.”

Bookman said hospitalizations, however, are serving as a key indicator for public health officials.

Colorado’s coronavirus-related fatalities are being driven by patients at nursing homes and senior care facilities. The Colorado Sun has found that through Wednesday that cohort accounted for one-third of all deaths.

MORE: Coronavirus-related deaths among Colorado nursing home, senior-care center residents rise to at least 64

At least 122 of Colorado’s coronavirus-related deaths have been among people 80 and older. One person was in his 20s, a Colorado Mesa University student from Aurora.

CDPHE, which reports fatality data daily, said Thursday that there were 226 coronavirus-related deaths in Colorado. But Gunnison County is also reporting its second COVID-19-linked death — a person who died earlier this week — which hadn’t been reflected in the state’s numbers.

The state health department’s data often lags days behind what county health officials report.

The fatalities reported Thursday include the first deaths in Alamosa and Ouray counties. The Denver metro area, however, continues to be the prime driver of the death count.