How many people at Denver’s downtown jail have coronavirus? Depends on who you ask.

Denverite: On May 20, 581 current and former inmates and three staffers at Denver’s Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center were considered to have COVID-19, making the downtown jail Colorado’s worst outbreak locale according to some local news sites, which used the figure circulated by Colorado’s public health department.

That same day, the city of Denver circulated a different number of infections: 239, a difference of 342 humans.

What gives?

To comply with national standards set by the Center for Disease Control, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment combines confirmed cases with cases deemed “probable” — a term that casts a wide net to include people who’ve had contact with an infected person. The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists recommended the standardized monitoring strategy on April 5 to better monitor the spread of the respiratory disease.

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