Monday, January 04, 2021

Third Leading Cause of Death

On February 29, 2020, the CDC logged the first Covid-19 death in the United States. The next day, no one died from Covid—the last day without a Covid death this year. The cumulative number of deaths from Covid-19 topped 1,000 on March 26. They exceeded 10,000 on April 6. On April 23, Covid-19 became a leading cause of death in the United States. 

The National Center for Health Statistics tracks leading causes of death, compiling the top-10 list each year. We will have to wait a while before the top-10 list of 2020 is released, but we already know Covid-19—a cause of death unknown a year ago—will be near the top of the list. It will be the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.

10 Leading Causes of Death in 2019
Total deaths   2,854,838
1. Diseases of heart      659,041
2. Malignant neoplasms      599,601
3. Accidents (unintentional injuries)      173,040
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases      156,979
5. Cerebrovascular diseases      150,005
6. Alzheimer disease      121,499
7. Diabetes mellitus        87,647
8. Nephritis        51,565
9. Influenza and pneumonia        49,783
10. Suicide        47,511

Let's see how the Covid-19 death count compares to the 10 leading causes of death in 2019. April 23 marks Covid's first appearance on the top-10 list. On that day, the cumulative number of Covid deaths in the U.S. surpassed the 47,511 suicides of 2019. The very next day, they exceeded the 49,783 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia. The day after that, they topped the 51,565 deaths from nephritis. So, in just three days in April, Covid not only made it onto the top-10 list, but had become the 8th leading cause of death. 

It didn't stop there. On May 16, Covid deaths surpassed those from diabetes, becoming the 7th leading cause of death. On June 24, Covid climbed into 6th place; on July 29th 5th place; on August 5th 4th place. A couple weeks later, on August 20, Covid-19 became the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States when the 173,490 cumulative Covid deaths surpassed the 173,040 deaths from accidents. 

On December 31, 2020, the CDC logged 3,298 deaths from Covid-19. The cumulative total for the year: 344,497, solidly in 3rd place as a cause of death. Let's hope Covid-19 is much lower on the list in 2021.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2019 and CDC Covid Data Tracker

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