Coronavirus was the third leading cause of death in the US last year

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We’ve lost over half a million people to the coronavirus, with 375,000 of those deaths happening in 2020. The CDC released a report stating that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in 2020, only behind heart disease and all forms of cancer. They also stated that the overall death rate increased 15.9% from 2019 to 2020. The death rate was highest among people of color.

COVID-19 was the third-underlying cause of death in 2020 after heart disease and cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Wednesday.

A pair of reports published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report sheds new light on the approximately 375,000 U.S. deaths attributed to COVID-19 last year, and highlights the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color — a point CDC Director Rochelle Walensky emphasized at a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing on Wednesday.

She said deaths related to COVID-19 were higher among American Indian and Alaskan Native persons, Hispanics, Blacks and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander persons than whites. She added that “among nearly all of these ethnic and racial minority groups, the COVID-19 related deaths were more than double the death rate of non-Hispanic white persons.”

[From NPR]

This isn’t surprising, but it’s still sobering and hard to hear. It also feels like we haven’t processed this loss as a nation at all. We lost almost 3,000 people in the attacks on 9/11 and we honored them, rightfully, and learned their names. I appreciate Nicolle Wallace’s segment on MSNBC, Lives Well Lived, with photos and stories about people who passed from the virus. She explained in an interview that she came up with it after she realized other outlets weren’t covering the stories of the countless people who have died. Remember the special Lady Gaga arranged, early in the pandemic, which was really somber and sad? We couldn’t sustain that kind of sadness, which is understandable, but in many ways it’s like we just moved on despite the fact that people were still dying in record numbers. We’re getting on the other side of it now with about 17% of the population fully vaccinated, but deaths are ticking up in some areas due to people still not taking precautions. It feels like there’s so much grief to deal with and like the whole nation is in denial.

We lost one of our long term commenters, Escaped Convent, last year. She was known as Nunny to her dear friends including Hecate. Hecate wrote a beautiful tribute to her. To our readers who have lost loved ones, we are so sorry and are thinking of you.

CB reader Brittany lost her mom, Lucy, in January. You can see her tribute to her on Facebook. Lucy was a dear friend, neighbor, mother and grandmother who was always there for people. Brittany asks that in honor of her mom that we wear a mask, something her mom insisted on, and that we tell people in our lives that we love and are grateful for them.

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10 Responses to “Coronavirus was the third leading cause of death in the US last year”

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  1. Bettyrose says:

    When I first read that I was like WTF else is killing more than 1/2 million Americans a year? We need to get on that. Oh right heart disease and cancer. I believe we do have a national effort or two fighting those non airborn murderers. But if there were a way for the entire nation to come together and eradicate cancer I’d like to think we’d friggin do it with no political divisiveness.

    • Veronica S. says:

      You say that, yet the most common methods things we could do to tackle both those issues (address poverty, nutritional deficits, and medical care access discrepancies) are absolutely politicized in this country. 😔

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      Bettyrose, I’ve read where the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna using mRNA are exciting because there’s research going. They believe that it will help to get rid of cancer. I’m going to try to keep up on that research. That leaves heart disease, but I do think that continue to get better and better at keeping people alive and with relatively normal lives.

  2. Astrid says:

    I read these numbers the other day and couldn’t wrap my head around the huge losses from heart disease and cancer and COVID being number 3.

  3. nicegirl says:

    This is the heartbreaking truth. I’m devastated about the losses of life and those suffering long haul effects of this terrible virus. I’m grateful every single day for the safety of my loved ones. I truly believe members of the Trump administration should be prosecuted for dereliction of duty. I appreciate your dedication to the coverage of these events and the terrible ramifications, CB. Thank you. I’m hopeful the vaccines will be a turning point but am still quite worried about this virus and it’s effects. I feel it’s criminal that we were lied to and keep wondering about the losses of life numbers had we’d gotten the truth in the beginning. 400,000+ people may have been spared. Tragic.

  4. HoofRat says:

    The trauma arising from this pandemic will live with individuals and nations for a very long time – and it should. The loss is overwhelming, and so much pain has not been acknowledged and validated. We’re such a grief-denying culture that I’m sure the emphasis will be on moving on, before we recognize where we’ve been and what we’ve lost. When Joe Biden said, “To heal, we need to remember”, he was speaking from experience. My heart goes out to the people who have lost loved ones and livelihoods and health and relationships. You matter. Your loss matters. Your stories deserve to be heard.

  5. SwiftCreekRising says:

    COVID stole my mother from me just before Christmas. I’m so angry that I’m tired of being angry, and I’m tired of seeing people walk around like nothing has happened. There are half a million people missing, and so many more of us whose worlds have just collapsed and it’s like no one sees it.

    • Trillion says:

      so so sorry for your loss, SwiftCreek. COVID losses have a defining characteristic – I’m a COVID nurse and telling families they cannot be at the bedside never gets easier.

    • Lady D says:

      I’m sorry for your loss, SwiftCreek, really sorry. I wish there was something I could say to help.