According to data compiled by The Washington Post, COVID-19 is quickly becoming the leading cause of death in America
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the country, the death toll of the virus is adding up. On April 5, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams referred to the week ahead as “our Pearl Harbor moment,” referencing the surprise World War II raid that killed 2,403 people. But the shocking reality of our current situation is that during the week of April 6, move than five times that amount of Americans lost their lives while battling the disease. Experts maintain that COVID-19 is quickly becoming the leading cause of death in America, and the Washington Post has compiled data which serves as compelling proof.
According to their statistics, during the week of April 6-12, 12,626 people died of heart disease, 12,392 from COVID-19, and 11,437 from cancer. This is a dramatic increase from early and mid-March, when America began taking measures to slow the spread — including widespread closures, quarantines and social distancing. During that period, far fewer people died of COVID-19 than chronic liver disease or high blood pressure, “and far fewer than suicide or the common flu,” they report.
By the end of March, the toll started rising closer to the average weekly deaths from diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and in April, weekly deaths overtook those from accidents and chronic lower respiratory disease. But it was last week that the virus proved itself to be a leading cause of death, overtaking cancer deaths. And keep in mind that these statistics only include confirmed cases.
While many experts believed the death toll would peak last week, the numbers continued to climb this week. According to their report 2,369 people died Tuesday and 2,441 on Wednesday. “COVID-19 is on pace to be the largest single killer of Americans this week, given the normal number of deaths in an April week,” the paper points out.
Obviously, the rate of death isn’t the same everywhere. Areas with the highest COVID-19 fatalities compared to other health complications include New York state and New York City, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia. Areas who started social distancing earlier than the rest of the country — such as Washington State and California — experienced less deaths per week.
However, not everyone supports the idea that COVID-19 is a leading cause of death in America. “There are no data to support that theory,” Jeff Lancashire, a spokesperson for the National Center for Health Statistics, said in an email to CNN last week. “We have limited data on 2020 deaths by cause, and no final official numbers yet for 2019, but we do know by looking at the final death totals in 2018 for the two leading causes of death in the U.S., Heart Disease and Cancer, there is no way that at this point COVID-19 comes anywhere close to those totals.”
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.