State Level Excess Mortality – December 29th, 2021

Well hello and happy new year! I hope everyone has had a delightful holiday season and is doing well. As promised, I am back with a state level excess mortality update. Now, I didn’t get to this for a few weeks due to some aforementioned personal life things, and while I was gone I discovered the CDC had update the way they calculated excess mortality and was releasing slightly different numbers from the ones I was previously looking at. You can read their full explanation here, but here’s the gist:

Excess mortality is calculated by taking the prior 4 years worth of deaths and averaging them together to get a baseline of how many people you’d expect to die in a state in any given week. When the pandemic started, the CDC stopped including new deaths in their baseline, because of course we’re all hoping this current mortality level doesn’t become the baseline. Now that the pandemic has gone on for nearly 2 years however, this meant that they were only using 2 years worth of data to determine the “expected” number of deaths. So they decided to go back 6 years (while still excluding our 2 pandemic years, so basically 4 years of data) to get a better baseline. This changed everyone’s excess counts a bit because the baseline was now a bit different. They note that on average this slightly lowered excess mortality estimates by about 2%. In this post I’m going to take a look at if the new calculations substantially changed anything we were seeing before.

To note: they are now only releasing “deaths above average” so that’s what I’m posting here, rather than both deaths above 2SD and above average like I was before. Additionally, this death count is probably going to go up quite a bit in the next 4 weeks as it includes deaths that were reported during Christmas week, which tend to be artificially low.

Excess Mortality Above Average

Alright, first, here’s the map. When I last posted this 6 weeks ago, the range was about 953-4784 excess deaths/million residents. Now it’s 872-4962. So some states clearly lost and some gained:

The hotspots appears approximately the same, with some states changing a bit.

Here are the top 10, along with their change from the mid-November data:

StateExcess Deaths Above Average/Million, 2/1/20-12/27/21Change from 11/10/21 Change in Rank
Mississippi4962+178No change
New Mexico3728+432+9
West Virginia3412+556+16

I looked at Wyoming and West Virginia in particular to see if the change in rank was due to the recalculation or reported deaths, and both states have been running at 50-75% excess mortality since September. With reporting delays, those are likely real increases.

I also looked at the top 10 states that increased their excess mortality count. The ones that showed big increases but didn’t make the top 10 overall were: Alaska (+864, 35th place), Vermont (+362, 25th place), Maine (+331, 45th place), Wisconsin (+314, 41st place), Michigan (+274, 17th place), and Minnesota (+231, 48th place).

I was quite thrilled to see Massachusetts is now 49th in the nation, though the CDC list includes Puerto Rico and DC, so that’s out of 52. New Hampshire is 51st.

Percent Excess Mortality, 2020 vs 2021

A new metric included in the data is the percent excess for each state by week. I thought this was interesting, because some states had a very different 2020 vs 2021. The average percent excess mortality for all states in from 2/1/20 to 12/31/2020 was 16.4%, the average so far for 2021 is 15.6%. Here are the top states in 2020, and how they fared in 2021:

State/Territory% Excess 2/1/2020 to 12/31/2020% Excess 2021 (reported so far)Difference
New York City53.614.6-38.9
New Jersey27.38.2-19.2
North Dakota24.68.2-16.4
South Dakota24.19.2-14.9
New Mexico21.621.5-0.1

Now here’s the reverse: top % excess in 2021, vs how they did in 2020.

State/TerritoryAverage % Excess 2/1/2020 to 12/31/2020Average % Excess 2021 (reported so far)Difference

Unsurprisingly, having 2 bad years appears to land you on the overall top 10 list pretty quickly. I’ll be updating this again to see what 2021 comes in at when we have more reported. With the holidays and the pre-existing reporting delays, this should be relatively straightforward to get.

As always, let me know if there are any questions! Stay safe out there.

12 thoughts on “State Level Excess Mortality – December 29th, 2021

  1. I’m not saying your numbers are wrong but that government is manipulating or just plain making up the data.
    I wouldn’t trust a bureaucrat if they walked up and called me by my proper name.


    • So you have no evidence, bluecat, but you are even more sure now that there is more data against your POV. Do you see why other people may not find this convincing, unless they also had the same initial assumptions you did? I find it puzzling how nothing fazes you. You somehow know the truth that eludes others.


      • The first paragraphs say the CDC picked new periods for the data they will use for data.
        Numerous sources say that the supposed “complete” databases are not complete.
        The cause of death is not independently verified.
        So which of those is wrong?
        2 + 2 = 4, but only if the inputs really were 2’s.


      • Oh, and didn’t the CDC just say, “Ooops, no need to take PCR tests because, well, they aren’t accurate.”
        Yes, a dead body is a dead body, but where there any changes in the RATE of reporting deaths?
        So we have high inflation, right? A fact. How does it compare to the inflation in the 1970’s? Wrong. The way inflation was calculated then is not the same as now. The same for the unemployment rate. So that Misery Index, a fun sort of comparison, but no direct comparison is possible.
        Again, BS King’s numbers and calculations are accurately reported and calculated.
        I just don’t trust the sources.
        Do I have “evidence”? How can I have evidence when I don’t have a second, independent source for the category of numbers being used?
        I have “evidence” that there are three types of lies:
        Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
        Would you call the rantings of conspiracy theorists aka frontline doctors, nurses, scientists, etc. that work in the field and are consistently reporting that what they SEE doesn’t seem to match up with what the government is reporting, “evidence”?


    • So just to clarify, the new time period for the data is for the calculations of what baseline they are using, not deaths themselves. They were transparent about this change, and the reasoning made sense to me. I am pro-not trusting bureaucrats, which again is why I’m mostly skipping over cause of deaths.

      In the best of years the data isn’t complete for months. This is mostly based on state delays, and from what I can tell it’s also a rural area thing. I think (but am not sure) some places don’t file deaths until there’s a death certificate, which from personal experience we just found out can take several weeks. I’m not sure why this is so delayed but it has made data tracking rather difficult. Supposedly Florida and Massachusetts are two of the best states for mortality reporting, so perhaps I have unrealistic expectations!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s concerning! I’m interested that he jumped right to vaccines though, as Indiana is far below national averages in vaccination rates. Would like to see the comparison to other states to see where we’re seeing this.

        We do know of course that murders are up, overdoses are up and I just saw that car accident fatalities are up:

        All of those would likely hit the 18-65 age range harder than any other. Additionally, I work in oncology and they’ve been raising the alarm for 1.5 years about how far behind people are getting on their cancer screenings. I’d imagine other health screening might be behind as well. We’re going to spend years unraveling all of this.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I must live a charmed life here in South Carolina. Or maybe I just don’t take no for an answer. I’m getting my labs done, my doctor’s visits in person, and if I have an issue that needs to be addressed, handled quickly.
        I did have to wait a few weeks for new patient allergy screenings and other family members had to wait a bit for new patient visits as well.
        But overall, no concerning delays for anything.
        I hear similar from family in California. Russian Roulette on if they will see the same doctor, but they do get the care they need.
        One definition I have of news is “sensational exceptions”.
        Basically, we only read about the weird stuff.
        For example, a story I heard about the DISASTROUS flight cancellations was lead off by the reporter saying, “I traveled last weekend and had NO problems.”

        “Every day, FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) provides service to more than 45,000 flights and 2.9 million airline passengers”

        So, 5,000 flights cancelled is around 10%. And if I remember correctly, only 3 or 4 hubs were affected so the MAJORITY of air travelers had “no problems”.

        It is all about perspective and another definition of news I use is:

        Perspective isn’t news.

        So, a headline I saw was:

        The flu is back and it is killing kids!!!!!!!!

        OMG – Wait, let’s get some perspective. A quick search showed that it was less than 200 kids a year. And it would take me hours to find the additional perspective that most of those 200 probably had comorbidities like a terminal illness.

        I appreciate the reporting you are doing. I do not doubt the calculations you make on the numbers you have.

        I question whether the numbers reported are “all” the numbers and if they are consistently reported by all the various sources.

        I remember reporting sales numbers to a trade analyst. Quite frankly, we made them up. Close, but they always trended up. I didn’t like doing that, but basically I was commanded to do so and wasn’t willing to quit over that. Then a new employee joined the company from a competitor. Guess what, they made the numbers up too.

        Does the CDC send auditors out to every source to make sure they are accurately reporting. Dream on.

        Oh, and murders are up! OMG! I think I saw that in NYC they used to have nearly 2,000 a year. Now they are up from like 200 to 300. A 50% increase! But FAR, FAR below the all time high. Perspective.

        When I lived in LA, a single murder wasn’t reported unless it was someone famous or unusual. At least 3 to lead the news.

        Happy New Year? Yes, it will be. The nice thing about things being bad is there is only one way for them to get – BETTER.

        BTW – I farted out my @$$ that the DOW would make a new high by the end of the year the Friday in I think November that ti dropped 500 points or so. I was only off by a few days, I think the DOW closed at a new record yesterday.


  2. I think the calculation for percent change on Wyoming is backwards. – vs. +.
    In one table it is positive and the second it is the opposite.


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