Colorado’s Coronavirus Death Toll Crosses 1,000

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David Zalubowski/AP
A statue wears a face mask and latex gloves to deal with the dangers of the new coronavirus Monday, April 27, 2020, in the front yard of a home in Littleton, Colo.

Colorado passed a grim benchmark on Tuesday as the total death toll in the state due to COVID-19 ticked over 1,000.

In total, 1,009 people have died of the disease. That’s an increase of 28 over the previous day, although state numbers lag by 24 hours and don’t reflect when people died.

The number of deaths per day has trended downward since late April, according to data posted by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. According to state data, just one person died of COVID-19 yesterday, although more may be identified in the coming days as public health officials await test results and probable cases.

The state’s death toll per capita is one of the highest in the country, ranking in the top 15 for deaths per 100,000 residents. Over 80,000 people have died of COVID-19 as of May 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state’s testing still lags behind what Gov. Jared Polis said to expect by mid-May. A total of 2,910 tests were conducted in the state on May 11, according to state data, still far from the 5,000 Polis said to expect this month. The governor anticipated that Colorado would conduct between 8,500 and 10,000 tests by the end of the month. The state has been hampered by limited supplies and protective equipment as it tried to increase its low testing rate.

Still, the rate of positive tests has dropped. That’s an indication that the state has begun testing more broadly. A high number of positive tests is a sign that health care workers are testing those most likely to have the disease, which means they may be missing people with more mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

Polis has said case and hospitalization rates will be indicators of how well the state is complying with social distancing measures under the safer-at-home order. But case numbers lag, as it takes time for people to show symptoms, and hospitalizations are even slower to increase.

The number of new cases a day has trended downwards, as have hospitalizations overall. The daily state numbers show a slight uptick in the number of patients hospitalized, 557 to 563, although the number of hospitals reporting also increased.