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5 Slide Series

Volume 103

Excess US Deaths in 2020 and 2021 by State, Age, and Race/Ethnicity Group

The February 24, 2022 edition of the 5 Slide Series examines excess deaths at the state level during the pandemic. Taking the difference of average monthly deaths during the pandemic and a pre-pandemic average, we find that states in the South and Southwest have experienced the largest percentage increase in deaths above normal. In addition, despite experiencing a particularly deadly first wave in the spring of 2020, New England states have collectively experienced the lowest number of excess deaths per capita; we find that 5 of the 11 states with the least number of excess deaths per capita are in this region. Second, we estimate excess deaths among different cohorts, including age, race/ethnicity, and cause of death. For age, we find that the 25–44 age bracket experienced the sharpest percentage increase in all-cause observed deaths in 2020 and 2021 compared to its 2015-2019 historical average. For race, we find that Hispanics experienced the sharpest percentage increase in all-cause observed deaths in 2020 and 2021, followed by American Indians/Alaska Natives and Asians. Lastly, we use cause of death data to confirm that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease/dementia increased the most during the pandemic, followed by deaths from circulatory disease. This latter finding dovetails with our February 4th edition, which showed that COVID deaths have likely been substantially undercounted. The spike in Alzheimer’s deaths could involve COVID death categorization dynamics.

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