Second COVID-19 patient dies in Garfield County; information made public doesn’t include day of death
A man in his 80s with COVID-19 has died in Garfield County, according to a news release from Garfield County Public Health.
The day the death occurred is unclear — Garfield County Public Health Specialist Carrie Godes said in a follow-up email that the county is releasing just “the county, patient’s gender, approximate age and if underlying conditions were present.”
Godes cited preserving patient privacy as the underlying reason for not making more information publicly available, although both Eagle and Pitkin counties have in some cases made more information available, including the day a person with COVID-19 died.
“There are counties across the state reporting things in differing manners, and we understand this may cause confusion,” Godes wrote in the email. “CDPHE and other counties are reporting in the same way as Garfield County, without the date of death or town.”
However, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Jeff Roberts wrote in an email that HIPAA only protects information that would personally identify an individual.
“It limits disclosure about an ‘an identifiable patient.’ The patient who died hasn’t been identified. How would disclosing the date of death identify the patient?” Roberts asked.
According to the county news release, the man had underlying health conditions. He’s the second COVID-19. The first death related to COVID-19 in Garfield County was reported March 28.
Garfield County had 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 4 p.m. Thursday.
The total number of positive cases is unlikely to represent how widespread COVID-19 is in Garfield County, as testing is being made available only for those who are critically ill in a high-risk group where diagnosis would benefit treatment.
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