2020 Will Be The Deadliest Year In US History As Deaths Top 3 Million

by : Hannah Smith on : 28 Dec 2020 15:37
2020 The Deadliest Year In US History As Deaths Top 3 MillionPA

Annual deaths in the United States are expected to top three million for the first time, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to tear through the country.

Preliminary figures suggest that the US is on track to see 400,000 more Americans die in 2020 compared to 2019, in what is the largest year-on-year increase in deaths the country has seen in more than a century. As of December 28, more than 333,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States.


A total of 3.2 million deaths are expected to be recorded overall, although exact numbers won’t be confirmed until well into 2021. That number would be a 15% increase compared with 2019, and the highest growth since 1918, when the US saw a 46% increase as a result of World War One and the Spanish influenza.

PA Images

The figures are the latest evidence of how the pandemic is doing long-term damage to the overall health of the nation. The United States had actually seen a declining death rate and increased life expectancy last year, with age-adjusted mortality dropping by about 1% and life expectancy rising by about six weeks. However, COVID-19 is set to undo that progress, with the CDC warning that the pandemic could see national life expectancy drop by as much as three years, USA Today reports.

COVID-19 has been circulating in the US for less than a year, but has already become the third leading cause of death in the country, behind heart disease and cancer. Health experts also believe that the pandemic has also been a factor in increasing rates of death from other causes such as diabetes and dementia, with patients either having their conditions exacerbated by the virus, or being unable to get proper care due to the pressure on hospitals.

PA Images

Aside from coronavirus, drug-related deaths have continued to worsen this year. The CDC reported 81,000 deaths from drug overdoses in the period between May 2019 and May 2020, in what is the single worst 12-month period for drug-related deaths in recorded history.

There’s no clear link between the pandemic and these figures, with the opioid addiction crisis having been spiralling in America long before the virus emerged. Several researchers have pointed to the growing danger from contaminated supplies, but some drug addiction experts have said that the pandemic may indirectly have contributed to the rising death rate, ABC News reports. Lockdown has limited access to in-person treatments and rehab facilities, while users are also more likely to be taking drugs alone, without anyone there to help in case of an overdose.

Some had hoped that there would be a silver lining to the pandemic, with lockdown potentially meaning fewer people would die in car accidents. But, according to AP News, there’s no evidence that that happened, either.


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Topics: News, America, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Death Toll, USA


ABC News and 1 other
  1. ABC News

    US deaths in 2020 top 3 million, by far most ever counted

  2. USA Today

    More than 3 million people died in 2020 – the deadliest year in US history