COVID-19 third-highest cause of U.S. deaths during 2020

Coronavirus Updates

FILE – In this Nov. 11, 2020, file photo, medical works operate a testing tent at a COVID-19 mobile testing site in the Brooklyn borough of New York. School systems in several states are giving up on in-person classes, and some governors are reimposing restrictions on bars and restaurants or getting more serious about masks, as the coast-to-coast resurgence of the coronavirus sends deaths, hospitalizations and new infections soaring. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(ABC4) – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused thousands of deaths across the United States since early 2020. In fact, it was the third-leading cause of death, according to a new report.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its Provisional Mortality Data for the U.S.

In 2020, about 3,358,814 deaths occurred in the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused about 375,000 deaths in the nation, coming in behind cancer and heart disease, causing 598,000 and 690,000 approximate deaths, respectively.

This graphic describes provisional U.S. 2020 deaths and leading causes of death.
Photo courtesy CDC

While the death rate in the U.S. increased by just under 16% in 2020, the CDC reports overall death rates were highest among non-Hispanic Black persons and non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons.

COVID-19 deaths were highest among Hispanics.

The CDC report indicates more men than women died due to COVID-19 and the hardest-hit age group was 85+ at more than 120,000 deaths reported.

Provisional number of COVID-19–related deaths and other deaths, by week
This figure is a bar chart showing the weekly number of COVID-19–related deaths in the United States during 2020.
Photo courtesy CDC

Data about COVID-19 deaths includes those for which the virus was listed on the death certificate as a confirmed or presumed underlying cause of death or a contributing cause of death, according to the CDC. Of the COVID-19 deaths reported in 2020, COVID-19 was the underlying cause of about 91% of virus-related deaths.

COVID-19 replaced suicide as one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Other leading underlying causes of death reported in the U.S. include:

  • Unintentional injury
  • Stroke
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease
  • Alzheimer disease
  • Diabetes
  • Influenza and pneumonia
  • Kidney disease
Provisional number of leading underlying causes of death
This figure is a bar chart showing the top 10 leading underlying causes of death in the United States during 2020, which were as follows: 1) heart disease, 2) cancer, 3) COVID-19, 4) unintentional injury, 5) stroke, 6) chronic lower respiratory disease, 7) Alzheimer disease, 8) diabetes, 9) influenza and pneumonia, and 10) kidney disease.
Photo courtesy CDC

The CDC says this report is based on provisional data, with the final annual mortality data typically released 11 months after the end of that specific calendar year. They add that the data can be limited for a number of reasons, including the cause of death for certain persons might have been misclassified.

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