Well hello again! Paid work delayed this post for a little bit, so I’m interested to see after 7 weeks where we’re going to land. Last time I posted we had just gone over 1 million excess deaths since 2/1/20, and as of this week we are just under 1.1 million. Hopefully things are settling down now, and I’ll be interested to see where the 2021 numbers are as well. I’m also going to throw in an extra bit about official COVID deaths vs excess mortality, as my state made some major adjustments to the official numbers this month.
Ready? Let’s go!
Excess Mortality Above Average
First up, the map. When I posted 7 weeks ago, the range at the bottom was 881-5245 deaths/million residents. Now it’s 1020-5729 deaths/million. The top states continue to rise faster than the bottom ones. It’s amazing to think that in the top states one out of every 200 people who was alive at the beginning of the pandemic is now an excess death. As always, that’s in addition to those expected to die anyway.
I was surprised to see West Virginia suddenly sticking out more than previously, and was curious to see how that showed up in the numbers. The difference was pretty clear:
West Virginia and South Carolina had a lousy winter it appears. They were the two states that gained the most excess deaths in the last 7 weeks. Here are the rest of the top 10:
|Difference||Mar Rank||Feb Rank|
Looking back at my old post, I had noted that West Virginia reporting had been quite sparse since Thanksgiving 2021, so it’s likely some of that jump is them catching up with deaths they should have filed much earlier. Let’s see if that shows up in the 2021 totals.
Percent Excess Mortality – 2020 and 2021
Looks like some of them did! North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia added 10+ percentage points to their 2021 excess mortality total since 7 weeks ago. Seems like a data dump. Again, the asterisked states added 2% or more to their total, and the ones highlighted in green are in the top 10.
|State||2020 deaths – actual||2020 deaths – expected||Percent Increase 2020||2021 deaths – reported||2021 deaths – expected||Percent Increase 2021|
|District of Columbia||7378||6881||7%||7116||6369||12%|
|New York City||81660||54889||49%||63113||55568||14%|
Now one more analysis before we go!
Excess Mortality vs Official COVID deaths and Vaccination Rates
So on this blog, we’ve been talking strictly about excess mortality. I started using this metric because I found the discrepancies between state death definitions a bit annoying. Two weeks ago, I heard that Massachusetts was revising their official COVID death count downward by about 3,700. Massachusetts had long been one of the states that appeared to be overcounting COVID deaths, so I was not concerned about this change. While MA has been hanging out in the bottom 5 for excess mortality for months, in terms of official COVID deaths they had been top 10-15 for 2 years now. With this change our official count has dropped to #32, much more in line with the likely true count. I decided to do a quick correlation between states to see how excess mortality lined up with official COVID death counts. The correlation is a stunning r = .83 between reported COVID deaths and excess mortality. Massachusetts highlighted in yellow, suggesting even with the reduction we are still slightly over counting:
That outlier of undercounting is Vermont btw, not sure what they’re up to.
So then, since this question comes up a lot, I decided to do a correlation between vaccine uptake by state and excess mortality since 2/1/20. Even with no vaccines in 2020, we still see a moderately strong negative correlation r = -.65. In general something is called strong at r = .7 or .75:
Stay safe out there!