As the Denver Post’s Jessica Seaman reported on Tuesday, and we wanted to be sure it got a mention in this space:
A Colorado district attorney announced Tuesday that an investigation into the handling of death certificates of COVID-19 patients at a Centennial nursing home found no evidence that the state’s health department illegally altered nor falsified the documents.
The investigation was started last month after Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park, alleged the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment falsified the number of people who have died from COVID-19…
On Monday, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler sent a letter to Baisley that said “since I have found insufficient evidence of death certificates being falsely made or altered, there are no criminal charges or additional investigations warranted at this time.”
The baseless allegation from GOP Rep. Mark Baisley of Douglas County that Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment staff were “altering death certificates” was just one of a huge number of dubious-trending-false claims circulated by Republicans during the height of “resistance” to the stay-at-home orders, which are now universally credited with helping reduce death and suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Baisley in particular, one of the wilder blowhards in the House minority caucus, has been a major source of controversy for Republicans during the pandemic–from comparing lawbreaking shopowners to Rosa Parks to demanding Douglas County pull out of the Tri County Health Department after the agency imposed a stay-at-home order quickly rendered moot by Gov. Jared Polis’ statewide order.
“The public health field has high standards of data collection and dissemination, which CDPHE follows rigorously,” said a statement by the state health department. “This is illustrated by the DA’s response to the claim. We are disappointed that such a bogus allegation would be perpetuated by a member of the general assembly in the first place.” [Pols emphasis]
It’s unusual for a state agency to use the word “bogus” in an official statement, but we’d say it’s justified here.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case with political misinformation, many more Coloradans saw the initial reports about Baisley’s baseless allegation than will most likely ever see the conclusion–from a Republican prosecutor no less–that the allegation was in fact baseless. Baisley’s ridiculous claim that CDPHE was “doctoring death certificates” is now a permanent part of the conspiracist mythology about the COVID-19 pandemic a segment of Colorado voters will believe for the rest of their lives.
But it’s not true. It was never true. And the only way to fight back is to tell the truth to as many people as Baisley lied to in uncritical media coverage. That’s difficult to do, and liars know it.
The truth these days is always at a disadvantage.