Virus Outbreak Colorado (copy)

Ron Thomas of the Denver Sheriff's Department stands in protective gear as he waits to administer coronavirus tests to motorists at a drive-up testing site in the parking lot of the Pepsi Center on Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Denver. Free testing is available at the Pepsi Center daily for people who show symptoms of COVID-19.

The Colorado State Auditor will participate in a coalition of 14 states and US territories that will audit how each state has reported and monitored cases of COVID-19.

According to a statement Thursday from State Auditor Dianne Ray, the audit hopes to "improve understanding of the pandemic's progression and to better guide public health actions in the future."

Ray said they are still looking at the areas to audit that will be "meaningful" for Coloradans as well as assessing data against those from other states.

Five states — Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have already developed an audit framework for the other states. 

Auditors and other fiscal watchdogs in Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and three states that are not being named will use that template.

The hope is that the states will be able to make "apples to apples" comparisons among other states, and then for states to assess their own use of data analytics that will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as well as to "gain understanding from approaches taken by other states."

The project, the brainchild of Delaware State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness, will begin in the fall, according to Ray's office, with a report issued by each state when the audit is completed.

Comparisons between Colorado guidelines regarding the pandemic and other states became an issue this week during a hearing on a lawsuit brought by the Tavern League of Colorado that sought a temporary restraining order over public health orders on "last call" and restaurant capacity. Colorado public health officials said they based some of their recommendations on pandemic outbreaks in other states, but without having compared Colorado's guidelines on masks, social distancing, sanitation and other rules from those states, including Michigan and Texas.

A Denver District court Judge Thursday denied the temporary restraining order, and a spokesman for the Tavern League of Colorado indicated they plan to appeal.

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