Here's Another Reason to Hate 2020

More than 3 million deaths will make this the deadliest year in US history
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 22, 2020 9:10 AM CST
Here's Another Reason to Hate 2020
This Dec. 9, 2020, photo shows hospital beds set up in a practice facility at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif.   (California OES via AP, File)

This is the deadliest year in US history, with deaths expected to top 3 million for the first time—due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic, reports the AP. Final mortality data for this year won't be available for months. But preliminary numbers suggest that the US is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019. US deaths increase most years, so some annual rise in fatalities is expected. But the 2020 numbers amount to a jump of about 15% and could go higher once all the deaths from this month are counted. That would mark the largest single-year percentage leap since 1918, when tens of thousands of US soldiers died in World War I and hundreds of thousands of Americans died in a flu pandemic. Deaths rose 46% that year, compared with 1917. COVID-19 has killed more than 318,000 Americans and counting.

The nation's overall mortality rate fell a bit in 2019, due to reductions in heart disease and cancer deaths. And life expectancy inched up—by several weeks—for the second straight year, according to death certificate data released Tuesday by the CDC. But life expectancy for 2020 could end up dropping as much as three full years, says the CDC's Robert Anderson. The virus has become the third leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer, and that's not including a burst of pneumonia cases early this year that may have been COVID-19 deaths and simply weren't recognized as such. There also have been an unexpected number of deaths from certain types of heart and circulatory diseases, diabetes, and dementia, many of those possibly related to COVID. The virus could have weakened patients or diminished the care they were getting, Anderson says.

(More coronavirus stories.)

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