U.S. excess deaths rose nearly 23 percent in 2020, study finds


Sumary of U.S. excess deaths rose nearly 23 percent in 2020, study finds:

  • Virginia Commonwealth University researchers’ latest study notes that Black Americans had the highest excess death rates per capita of any racial or ethnic group in 2020..
  • The rate of excess deaths — or deaths above the number that would be expected based on averages from the previous five years — is usually consistent, fluctuating 1% to 2% from year to year, said Steven Woolf, M.D., the study’s lead author and director emeritus of VCU’s Center on Society and Health..
  • There is a sizable gap between the number of publicly reported COVID-19 deaths and the sum total of excess deaths the country has actually experienced,”.
  • Examples might include deaths resulting from not seeking or finding adequate care in an emergency such as a heart attack, experiencing fatal complications from a chronic disease such as diabetes, or facing a behavioral health crisis that led to suicide or drug overdose..
  • said Woolf, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health at the VCU School of Medicine..
  • population (12.5%), reflecting racial disparities in mortality due to COVID-19 and other causes of death in the pandemic, Woolf and his co-authors write in the paper..
  • Woolf cited economic or political reasons for decisions by some governors to weakly embrace, or discourage, pandemic control measures such as wearing masks..
  • “One of the big lessons our nation must learn from COVID-19 is that our health and our economy are tied together..
  • According to the study’s data, the 10 states with the highest per capita rate of excess deaths were Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, South Dakota, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio..
  • For example, cancer mortality rates may increase in the coming years if the pandemic forced people to delay screening or chemotherapy..
  • Woolf said future illness and deaths from the downstream consequences of the devastated economy could be addressed now by “bringing help to families, expanding access to health care, improving behavioral health services and trying to bring economic stability to a large part of the population that was already living on the edge before the pandemic.”.
  • Among other research, his team’s 2019 JAMA study of working-age mortality underscores the importance of prioritizing public health measures like these, he said…

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