Deaths estimated above normal, March 1 to July 25
Note: Data is most likely undercounted for some states in recent weeks.
In the United States, at least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March, according to a New York Times analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. That’s around 60,000 more than the number of deaths that have been directly linked to the coronavirus.
As the pandemic has moved south and west from its epicenter in New York City, so have the unusual patterns of death from all causes. This suggests that official death tolls dramatically underestimate the overall effects of the virus, as people die from the virus as well as other causes linked to the pandemic.
When the coronavirus first took hold in the United States in March, the bulk of above normal deaths, or “excess deaths,” were in the northeast, while New York and the New Jersey have seen huge increases.
The northeast still accounts for nearly half of all excess deaths in the country, although numbers in the region have declined significantly since the April peak.
But as the number of hot spots increased, the number of excess deaths increased in other parts of the country. Many recent cases and deaths of coronavirus in the South and West may have been largely due to reopenings and a relaxation of social distancing restrictions.
When excessive deaths peaked during the pandemic
Counting deaths takes time, and many states are weeks or months behind in reporting. CDC estimates are adjusted for the lag in mortality data from previous years. Even with this adjustment, there may be an underestimation of the total number of deaths if the increase in mortality causes states to lag more behind than in the past or if states have changed their reporting systems. .
But comparing recent death totals from all causes may provide a more complete picture of the impact of the pandemic than just tracking deaths of people with a confirmed diagnosis.
Above-normal weekly deaths in each state
The charts below show how much higher than usual weekly deaths have been in each state. The states with the most recent peaks – the week they saw the most excessive deaths during the pandemic – appear first. For each state, the weeks in which the data may be incomplete are excluded.
Deaths above normal in the South
Nine of the 13 southern states began to see an excess of deaths increase in July, months after the start of the pandemic. A spike in cases in places like Texas put pressure on hospitals, echoing the chaos that followed in New York City months earlier. South Carolina, among the first states to reopen retail stores, saw deaths reach 1.6 times normal levels in mid-July.
Unlike other states in this region, Louisiana saw its excess fatalities peak in April – when the total number of deaths hit 1.7 times normal levels. Medical experts said the Mardi Gras rallies likely contributed to the spike.
Deaths above normal in the West
In July, coronavirus deaths in Arizona increased, although new daily cases have since declined. In California, the first state to issue a stay-at-home order this spring, coronavirus deaths increased in July, after a reopening that some health officials said was too quick.
Above-normal deaths in the Midwest
In the Midwest, some states like Michigan and Illinois hit their peaks in April. Detroit has been particularly affected by the virus.
Above normal deaths in the northeast
New York City during the first months of the pandemic was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak and plagued with staggering death totals, which peaked at more than seven times normal levels. Other areas of the northeast, including New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, also experienced early outbreaks. Overall, rates have since declined significantly in much of the region.
Total death numbers are estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which are based on death certificates counted by the CDC and adjusted for typical delays in reporting deaths.
Only weeks in which the CDC estimates the data to be at least 90% complete or the estimated deaths were greater than the expected numbers of deaths are included. Weeks in which reported deaths were less than 50% of the CDC estimate are not included. Because states vary somewhat in how quickly they report deaths to the federal government, state charts may contain data for different time periods.
Expected deaths were calculated using a simple model based on the weekly number of deaths from all causes from 2017 to 2019 published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adjusted for trends, such as changes in population, over time.
Additional reporting by Josh Katz and Margot Sanger-Katz.