A Colorado man is dead after suffering from acute alcohol poisoning, but medical officials later determined that his death was because of COVID-19.
A Thursday report says that police found 35-year-old Sebastian Yellow dead earlier in May. Colorado’s Montezuma County coroner, George Deavers, determined that the man died due to acute alcohol poisoning — his blood alcohol content level was measured at .55, which is nearly twice the lethal limit, KCNC-TV reports.
After Yellow’s death, state health officials reportedly categorized the 35-year-old’s sudden death as being due to coronavirus.
Deavers took issue with the determination, and told KCNC, “They should have to be recording the same way I do. They have to go off the truth and facts and list it as such.”
Deavers added that Yellow later tested positive for COVID-19, but it had nothing to do with his death.
“It wasn’t COVID, it was alcohol toxicity,” Deavers said. “Yes, he did have COVID, but that is not what took his life.”
KCNC’s Brian Maass also shared the report on Twitter, writing, “What killed Sebastian Yellow? Coroner says the man drank himself to death with .550 blood alcohol-reading[. ‘E]thanol toxicity’ reads death certificate. But @CDPHE has categorized it as a #COVID19 death, raising many questions.”
What killed Sebastian Yellow? Coroner says the man drank himself to death with .550 blood alcohol reading-'ethanol toxicity' reads death certificate. But @CDPHE has categorized it as a #COVID19 death, raising many questions. Our @CBSDenver report:https://t.co/w5dHyT24wk pic.twitter.com/viEClhYeBX
— Brian Maass (@Briancbs4) May 15, 2020
In a statement, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said that the organization classifies a COVID-19 death based on circumstances surrounding each individual death.
“We classify a death as confirmed when there was a case who had positive SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) laboratory test and then died,” the statement read. “We also classify some deaths as probable.”
The statement continued, “The gist is that there must be strong epidemiological evidence of COVID-19 such as a combination of close contact with a confirmed case and symptoms of COVID-19. We will also count a death as a COVID-19 death when there is no known positive laboratory test, but the death certificate lists ‘COVID-19’ as a cause of death.”
Deavers later added that the incident was certainly suspicious.
“[Area residents are] thinking the state is trying to inflate numbers which it does look like it, whether they are or not, I don’t know,” said Deavers. He noted that some people have suggested that the state is “trying to make it look like it’s worse than it really is.”
“I don’t know if that’s what their intentions are,” he added. “Maybe they’re trying to do it for some of the two trillion budgeted in for the COVID.”