This year is expected to be the deadliest in U.S. history with more than 3 million deaths projected by the end of December, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Final mortality data for this year will not be released for several more months, but preliminary assessments expect the U.S. will see at least 400,000 more deaths in 2020 than in 2019. The annual spike in deaths amounts to a 15% increase, the largest single-year increase since 1918 when tens of thousands of American soldiers died during World War I, according to the Associated Press.
The increase in deaths this year is largely attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. has more than 15 million confirmed cases and nearly 320,000 reported coronavirus-related deaths according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Our daily update is published. States reported 2.1 million tests, 178k cases, and 1,485 deaths. There are a record 115,351 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the US. pic.twitter.com/xy21PNNvyF
— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) December 22, 2020
More than 11 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna have been allocated for distribution and Bloomberg data estimated that 600,000 Americans have already been vaccinated. (RELATED: ‘I Didn’t Feel A Thing’: Pence Receives Coronavirus Vaccine On Camera)
But public health experts believe the number of U.S. coronavirus-related deaths will continue to increase. The latest models project that around 400,000 people will have died from coronavirus by the end of January 2021, according to FiveThirtyEight.
CDC official Robert Anderson noted that annualized life expectancy for 2020 could drop as much as three years, the Associated Press reported. He added that this year saw an unexpected number of deaths from certain cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and dementia.
Drug overdose deaths also contributed to the spike in deaths this year. The CDC announced in a Dec. 17 statement that 81,000 drug overdose deaths were recorded over a 12-month period ending in May, the highest ever recorded. Public health officials said they believe the coronavirus pandemic accelerated overdose fatalities and other deaths of despair.
“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement. “As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences.”