Friday, May 14, 2021

Huge Increase in U.S. Deaths in 2020, and Covid Played a Huge Role

I have spent the past 30 years studying how people die in the United States, which is why I have been so passionate about making cigarette smoking history.  Unfortunately, too many Americans were either apathetic or completely belligerent about practical and commonsense harm reduction solutions to reduce smoking-attributable deaths, so every year half a million lives were prematurely and needlessly tossed away for over two decades.

In 2020 we had the Covid-19 tragedy, in which apathy and belligerence to commonsense pandemic precautions once again killed a lot of Americans.  We now have the first set of numbers from the CDC as proof.

As seen in the chart at left, deaths from all causes in the U.S. skyrocketed from 2.85 million in 2019 to 3.36 million last year.  We expect all-cause deaths to slightly increase each year because of steady population growth (currently about 330 million) and steady ageing of that population.  In fact, during the previous 10 years, on average deaths increased by about 43,000.  But in 2020 deaths were up by almost 504,000.  That jump is unprecedented in the past 50 years. 

One bogus claim heard commonly last year was that Covid was mainly killing the elderly who were about to die anyway from some other disease.  But the CDC numbers destroy such frivolous notions.  The agency recorded 345,323 Covid deaths, which ranks third to heart diseases and cancer in the following chart.  Note that heart disease deaths also had a sharp increase in 2020, while cancer deaths were about the same.

Modest increases were also recorded for injuries, stroke and Alzheimers disease, as noted in the next chart.   


So it’s clear that Covid deaths didn’t “replace” other causes.  In fact, the charts suggest that Covid might have contributed in some way to extra deaths from heart diseases, stroke and even diabetes, which is seen in the next chart.


One group of diseases that Covid had no influence on was influenza/pneumonia, which saw no significant change. 

Keep in mind that absolute numbers of deaths only tell part of the mortality story.  Eventually the CDC will release data on age at death, from which rates can be calculated and more detailed comparisons made with previous years.  I guarantee that there won’t be any good news there.




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