A map of the United States with the rate of excessive deaths. The Dakotas, New England, the South and the Southwest had some of the highest deaths per 100,000 people in the last 10 months of 2020. Credit: Virginia Commonwealth University
Extensive waves in the south and west in the summer and early winter of 2020 resulted in a regional increase in death rates, both from COVID-19 and other causes. This found a 50-state analysis of trends in deaths. The latest study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University finds that black Americans had the highest per capita excess mortality rates of any race or ethnic group in 2020.
The study, published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, offers new data from the last 10 months of 2020 on how many Americans died as a result of the pandemic in 2020 – the number of COVID-19 – Deaths beyond – and which states and racial groups have been hardest hit.
The rate of excessive deaths – or deaths above what would be expected based on averages over the past five years – is usually constant, fluctuating by 1% to 2% from year to year, said Dr. Steven Woolf, lead study author and emeritus director of the VCU Center for Society and Health. From March 1, 2020 to January 2, 2021, national excessive deaths rose a staggering 22.9% due to COVID-19 and deaths from other causes, with regions increasing at different times.
“COVID-19 accounted for approximately 72% of the excess deaths we calculated, and that’s similar to what our previous studies showed. There is a sizable gap between the number of publicly reported COVID-19 deaths and the total excess deaths that Country has actually experienced it, “said Woolf.
For the other 28% of the 522,368 deaths during that period, some may have been affected by COVID-19, even if the virus was not listed on death certificates due to reporting problems.
But Woolf said disruption caused by the pandemic was another cause of the 28% of excessive deaths not attributed to COVID-19. Examples include deaths resulting from failure to seek or find adequate care in an emergency such as a heart attack, fatal complications from a chronic disease such as diabetes, or a behavioral crisis that resulted in suicide or drug overdose .
“All three categories could have contributed to an increase in deaths among people who did not have COVID-19 but whose lives were largely affected by the pandemic,” said Woolf, professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health at the VCU School of Medicine.
The percentage of excessive deaths among non-Hispanic blacks (16.9%) exceeded their proportion of the U.S. population (12.5%), attributed to racial differences in mortality from COVID-19 and other causes of death in the pandemic is. Woolf and his associate authors write in the newspaper. The excessive death rate among black Americans was higher than the excessive death rate among non-Hispanic white or Hispanic populations.
Woolf said his team is motivated to break down this information by race and ethnicity as there is growing evidence that people of color have experienced an increased risk of death from COVID-19.
“We have seen a disproportionate number of black deaths in the United States,” said Woolf, C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright, VCU Distinguished Chair for Population Health and Health Justice. “This is in line with the evidence for COVID-19, of course, but it also suggests that excessive deaths from illnesses other than COVID-19 are also more common in the African American population.”
The number of excess deaths varied across regions of the United States. Northeastern states like New York and New Jersey were among the first to be hit by the pandemic. Their pandemic curves looked like a capital “A,” Woolf said, peaking in April and quickly bouncing back to baseline in eight weeks as tight restrictions were put in place. However, in other states, where restrictions were lifted early and hit heavily later in the year, the increase in excessive deaths lasted much longer. Woolf cited economic or political reasons for decisions by some governors to weakly adopt or discourage pandemic control measures such as wearing masks.
“They said they would open early to save the economy. The tragedy is that politics is not only costing more lives, it is also damaging their economy by making the pandemic longer,” Woolf said. “One of the great lessons our nation must learn from COVID-19 is that our health and our economies are interconnected. You can’t really save one without the other.”
According to the study data, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, South Dakota, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Ohio were the 10 states with the highest per capita death rates.
Nationally, Woolf expects the US to see the aftermath of the pandemic long after this year. For example, cancer mortality rates may rise in the coming years if the pandemic forces people to delay screening or chemotherapy.
Woolf said future diseases and deaths from the downstream effects of the shattered economy could now be addressed by “helping families, expanding access to health care, improving behavioral health services and trying to bring economic stability to large populations.” Living on the edge even before the pandemic. “Among other things, his team’s JAMA study on working-age mortality in 2019 underscores the importance of prioritizing such public health interventions.
“American workers are sicker and die sooner than workers in companies in other countries that run against America,” Woolf said. “Investing in health is just as important to the US economy as it is to COVID-19 in this context.”
Derek Chapman, Ph.D., Roy Sabo, Ph.D., and Emily Zimmerman, Ph.D., of the VCU Center for Society and Health and the School of Medicine joined Woolf as co-authors of the paper released Friday on. “Excessive Deaths from COVID-19 and Other Causes in the United States from March 1, 2020 to January 2, 2021.”
Their study also confirms a trend that Woolf’s team found in an earlier 2020 study: the death rate from several non-COVID-19 conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, rose during the voltage spikes.
“This country has experienced profound loss of life due to the pandemic and its aftermath, especially in color communities,” said Dr. Peter Buckley, Dean of the VCU School of Medicine. “While we must remain vigilant about social distancing and the wearing of masks throughout this pandemic, we must also make efforts to ensure an equitable distribution of supplies if we are to reduce the likelihood of further death.”
Based on current trends, Woolf said the waves the US has seen may not be over even if vaccinations are underway.
“We’re not out of the woods yet because we’re in a race with the COVID-19 variants. If we slack off too soon and don’t adhere to public health restrictions, the vaccine may not be able to prevail against the variants.” Said Woolf. “Unfortunately, we see that many states have not learned the lesson of 2020. Once again they are lifting restrictions, reopening businesses and now seeing the COVID-19 variants spread among their populations.
“To prevent more deaths, we need to keep our horses and comply with applicable public health restrictions so the vaccine can do its job and get the case numbers under control.”
COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in the United States today
Journal of the American Medical Association (2021). DOI: 10.1001 / jama.2021.5199, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/… .1001 / jama.2021.5199 Provided by Virginia Commonwealth University
Quote: Deaths in the US typically change less than 2% each year. in 2020 they rose almost 23% (2021, April 2), accessed on April 2, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-deaths-year-rose.html
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