COVID-19 Reported as Third Leading Cause of Death in 2020 in the U.S.

COVID-19 Reported as Third Leading Cause of Death in 2020 in the U.S.

Federal health researchers report the study from the past year.

Following heart disease and cancer, COVID-19 was officially the third leading cause of death in 2020. This displaced unintentional injuries as the usual third place spot, federal health researchers reported. Coronavirus took 345,323 lives of Americans solely last year.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in about 30,000 additional cases, death certificates cited COVID-19, however, it wasn’t considered the cause of death. In addition to COVID-19, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s also claimed higher numbers in deaths, known as excess deaths.

“There’s a substantial number of excess deaths, beyond what we would have expected in a normal year,” said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the N.C.H.S. and a senior author of two reports published by the CDC. While deaths from heart disease and other illnesses should have increased slightly because of the aging of the population, “this is way up and beyond what we would expect,” Dr. Anderson added.

In a second report issued Wednesday, Dr. Anderson said he and his colleagues determined throughout 378,000 death certificates that claimed to be the source of unrelated causes, such as heart attacks, they found that coronavirus was an underlying factor in the majority of cases.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, people were claiming deaths were simply being attributed to Covid when people were dying of other causes,” Dr. Anderson said. “We show that’s not the case.” The researchers’ examination also shows that conditions on death certificates, like pneumonia or respiratory failure, were also consistent with those who died of COVID-19, according to doctors.

The disease’s death rates were highest among men. The most common subcategory is elderly people aged 85 and older.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

Download Center

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2021

    November December 2021


      How to Streamline Gas Detector Maintenance
    • OSHA TOP 10
      OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2021
      How PPE Can Help You Deal with the Harsh Condition of Winter
      Tackling Hearing Protection in the Workplace
    View This Issue