The Pandemic’s Hidden Toll Is Revealed in Excess Death Counts

Many of the unexpected deaths in rural U.S. counties last year were not recorded as caused by COVID

The Pandemic's Hidden Toll Is Revealed in Excess Death Counts
Credit: Amanda Montañez

The official U.S. death toll from COVID has surpassed 600,000, but the true number is likely much higher. In a preprint study, global health professor Andrew C. Stokes of Boston University and his colleagues found that in 2020 in U.S. counties with significant excess deaths (deaths beyond the expected number), only 82 percent of them on average were attributed to COVID.Some of the biggest gaps were in rural counties, particularly in the South and West. These gaps may reflect COVID deaths that were misattributed to other causes or indirect deaths resulting from the pandemic’s social and economic impacts.

An acute shortage of COVID testing early on meant that many patients never got tested. Coroners or other elected officials who lack medical experience may not have recognized COVID as the cause of death or may have declined to list it for political reasons, Stokes and his team hypothesize. Some New England counties actually had negative excess deaths last year—fewer people died than usual—possibly the result of reductions in other causes of death while people stayed at home, the researchers say.

Bar graph compares excess death rates and COVID death rates for 2020 in all U.S. counties with at least 100,000 residents.
Credit: Amanda Montañez; Source: Calvin A. Ackley, Dielle J. Lundberg, Irma T. Elo, Samuel H. Preston and Andrew C. Stokes

*Excess deaths were calculated using provisional mortality data reported as of June 3 and may be subject to change.

This article was originally published with the title “COVID’s Hidden Toll” in Scientific American 325, 3, 84 (September 2021)




    Tanya Lewis is a senior editor at Scientific American who covers health and medicine.

     Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter

    Credit: Nick Higgins


      Amanda Montañez is an associate graphics editor at Scientific American.

       Follow Amanda Montañez on Twitter

      Note: This article have been indexed to our site. We do not claim legitimacy, ownership or copyright of any of the content above. To see the article at original source Click Here

      Related Posts
      Am Yisrael Sher 7: The contribution of the Maccabees to music in the Temple thumbnail

      Am Yisrael Sher 7: The contribution of the Maccabees to music in the Temple

      מנהגי המוזיקה בבית המקדש בימי המקבים והחשמונאים בהשפעה יוונית 1) פקודת אנטיוכוס השלישי הצוו של המלך הסלאוקי אנטיוכוס ה-3 הופיע במכתב ששוגר לתלמי, שר צבאו לאחר שנת 200 לפנה"ס, כגמול ליהודים על הושיטם סיוע למלך במלחמותיו. פקודה זו העידה על כוונתו של אנטיוכוס לעשות רבות לקימומה של ירושלים ולאספקת הקרבנות והנסכים הדרושים לעבודת המקדש, וכן…
      Read More
      Long March 7A rocket deploys two Chinese tech demo satellites thumbnail

      Long March 7A rocket deploys two Chinese tech demo satellites

      A Long March 7A rocket lifts off Dec. 23 from the Wenchang space center. Credit: CASCChina launched two classified Shiyan satellites Dec. 23 into a geostationary transfer orbit aboard a Long March 7A rocket, one of the country’s newest launch vehicles. The mission took off from China’s Wenchang launch base on Hainan Island. The 199-foot-tall…
      Read More
      Juno Records ‘Sounds’ of Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede thumbnail

      Juno Records ‘Sounds’ of Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede

      The magnetosphere of Ganymede, the Jupiter’s largest moon, is a source of electric and magnetic radio emissions, which have been monitored by the Waves instrument onboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft. This image of Ganymede was obtained by the JunoCam imager aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its June 7, 2021, flyby of the icy moon. This image…
      Read More
      How to Disable Fast Startup on Windows 10 thumbnail

      How to Disable Fast Startup on Windows 10

      To disable Fast Startup on Windows 10, open the Power Options menu and go to Additional Power Settings > Choose What the Power Buttons Do. Click "Change Settings That Are Currently Unavailable" and uncheck "Turn On Fast Startup", then save your changes.Windows 10’s Fast Startup feature helps turn on your computer faster, but there are
      Read More
      How a Record-Breaking Heat Wave Fueled Climate Anxiety thumbnail

      How a Record-Breaking Heat Wave Fueled Climate Anxiety

      As a record-breaking heat wave roasted the Pacific Northwest last summer, anxiety rose with the temperatures. Surveys of residents in British Columbia—where the heat in some places soared above 120 degrees Fahrenheit—suggest the disaster caused a spike in negative mental health related to climate change. The results of the surveys, recently published in The Journal of Climate Change…
      Read More
      Index Of News
      Consider making some contribution to keep us going. We are donation based team who works to bring the best content to the readers. Every donation matters.
      Donate Now

      Subscription Form

      Liking our Index Of News so far? Would you like to subscribe to receive news updates daily?