Overall Deaths vs. COVID-19 Deaths
Almost 3 million people die each year in the United States from all different causes. In the past, flu season has peaked between January and March, and is a major driver in total deaths. As of right now, there isn’t enough 2020 data to know if there has been a significant increase in total deaths as a result of the coronavirus. This is important because it gives us information into whether or not COVID-19 is driving more total death numbers than what would normally be each month.
According to several sources, it is not clear that coronavirus has impacted a significant change in total death numbers. John Lee, a former UK National Health Service pathologist, stated in his article on The Spectator, “statistically… on a global basis, we’d expect 14 million to die over the first three months of the year. The world’s 18,944 coronavirus deaths represent 0.14 percent of that total. These figures might shoot up, but they are, right now, lower than any other infectious diseases that we live with (such as flu.)
Deaths in The United States vs. COVID-19 Deaths
During March 2020, there were 4,053 COVID-19 deaths according to Worldometer. This number is only 1.6% of the total deaths in March 2019. (It is important to note that there isn’t enough March 2020 data for a comparison on this year.) However, the total death number from March 2018 to March 2019 increased by 4,000. So for this year, the increase in total deaths due to coronavirus is equal to the natural increase we saw from 2018 to 2019.
The CDC also reported that pneumonia deaths have often been far more common than COVID-19 deaths are right now. During this season, pneumonia deaths have actually dropped, due to the trend of attributing more of these deaths to COVID-19. The CDC is also having all medical staff report deaths as COVID-19 even when no test has proven the presence of the virus. The agency advises, “COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death.” This is likely to increase the number of deaths attributed to coronavirus while dropping death numbers from other influenza-like illnesses.
Since total deaths for 2020 has yet to be established for these recent months, we will have to wait to see what happens. For more information, click here.