COVID-19 death probe not complete

The Grand County Coroner reports that news a Grand County resident who tested positive for COVID-19 after his death was not killed by the virus was premature and inaccurate.

According to Grand County Coroner Brenda Bock, the state automatically reports anyone who dies and tests positive for COVID-19 as a virus related death. However, when it comes to the actual death investigation, that responsibility falls squarely on the coroner’s office.

“When the death certificate is signed, that’s where you get the real cause of death,” Bock said, adding that the investigation into the Grand County man who died before testing positive for COVID-19 is not complete.

On June 30, Grand County Public Health reported that county officials were made aware of a county resident who had recently died and tested positive for COVID-19. The county explained the test was conducted by the Donor Alliance, the company that handles organ donations, after the coroner’s office performed an autopsy.

At the time, the county said the cause of death was still under investigation and declined to release any information about the individual, citing patient privacy concerns.

Over the phone Tuesday, Bock said she ordered the autopsy because the death was unattended and there was no clear cause. She confirmed the man was an organ donor and said none of his organs could be used because of the positive COVID-19 test result.

On July 3, the county offered an update about “the investigation” into the person’s cause of death, saying it determined the man’s death not to be a result of COVID-19.

“While the individual did test positive for the virus, (his) death was not because of the virus,” county officials wrote in the county’s COVID-19 update on July 3.

The Sky-Hi News reported the update online, but Bock said on Tuesday that it was inaccurate and there is still no completed autopsy report or a determined cause of death at this time.

A spokesperson for the county attributed the mistake to miscommunication with the county thinking the investigation had ended when it had not. The county has confirmed the investigation is still pending and they have not come to a conclusion.

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