staggering
August 13, 2020

Infection rates, cases per 100,000 residents, and hospitalization numbers aside, one straightforward way to understand the toll of the pandemic is by looking at excess deaths.

While the official death toll of COVID-19 in the U.S. is a sobering 166,000, The New York Times reported Thursday that the U.S. has suffered 200,000 excess deaths since March. While not all of those can be officially attributed to the coronavirus death toll, in part because some people who die at home are never tested, the larger number may paint a more accurate picture.

As the Times' Margot Sanger-Katz reports, compared to the same time period last year, there have been 20 percent more deaths in the U.S., with higher mortality rates in every state except Hawaii, Alaska, and West Virginia. She notes that some of the excess death could come from people generally avoiding hospitals or strained health care systems, "but most are probably COVID." Given that "the regional patterns in excess deaths are tracking the movement of the virus into states that aren't really locked down," Sanger-Katz concludes "lockdown deaths" likely aren't a main cause, as President Trump has asserted.

Excess deaths peaked in the Northeast in the spring, and are now concentrated in the South and West of the U.S., the Times reports. Spikes in excess deaths were also notable after states with lockdown measures lifted restrictions. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

See More Speed Reads