The coronavirus pandemic, which is surging in many parts of the South and West, claimed at least 122,000 more lives in the U.S. than would be expected in a normal year, for an increase of 18 percent, a new study has found.
The rate represents an average, and the excess number of deaths was higher in hot spots for the pandemic such as New York City, which buried more than three times more people than usual overall, according to the study carried out by Yale University and published today in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
In New York City, the expected deaths under a demographic model based on statistics from previous years would be 13,000 from March 1 through the end of May. But this time the number of deaths recorded was 38,170.
The total number of extra deaths in the country was far greater than that of the deaths blamed on coronavirus, since many people were not getting tested in the early stage of the pandemic. Arizona and Texas, which were not as impacted by the deadly virus in the early spring but are now seeing surges, were the worst off by this measure.
"The gap between the official COVID-19 tally and the excess deaths has been shrinking over time and has nearly disappeared in some places, like New York City," Daniel Weinberger, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and first author of the study, said in a statement.
"How reliably the official tolls capture the full burden of excess deaths still varies considerably between states," he added.
The research, however, does not examine deaths caused indirectly by the pandemic, including people who refused to go to the hospital for fear of getting infected when they were having a heart attack or a stroke.
In the United States, there were more than 2.6 million infections and at least 127,485 deaths from COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon.