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To estimate the number of deaths due to COVID-19, this study provides an updated count of excess deaths by calculating the difference between expected deaths using historical data and observed death from 48 US states from March to July 2020. The authors used the data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the US Census Bureau. The analysis found that more than 225,000, or 20% more deaths than expected, occurred from March to July 2020, with 67% of these directly attributable to COVID-19 based on death certificate evaluation; the remaining 33% could or could not be attributable to COVID-19 or its indirect effects.
While acknowledging the limits of provisional data (for example, Connecticut and North Carolina were excluded due to a lag in data reporting), the authors provide a sobering glimpse of one aspect of the pandemic's impact.
– Emmett A. Kistler, MD
This abstract is available on the publisher's site.
Previous studies of excess deaths (the gap between observed and expected deaths) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic found that publicly reported COVID-19 deaths underestimated the full death toll, which includes documented and undocumented deaths from the virus and non–COVID-19 deaths caused by disruptions from the pandemic. A previous analysis found that COVID-19 was cited in only 65% of excess deaths in the first weeks of the pandemic (March-April 2020); deaths from non–COVID-19 causes (eg, Alzheimer disease, diabetes, heart disease) increased sharply in 5 states with the most COVID-19 deaths. This study updates through August 1, 2020, the estimate of excess deaths and explores temporal relationships with state reopenings (lifting of coronavirus restrictions).