New data exposes higher COVID-related death rate in Black people

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 03/03/2021, 6:56 PM
Edited: 03/16/2021, 12:27 AM
(NATIONAL) A new study has found that Black people are dying from COVID-19 related causes at a higher rate than any other demographic, with a 79 percent uptick in deaths compared to what would normally be expected. The news stats are based on independent research conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, and deals with “excess all-cause mortality” data, information analysts say is key to understanding the true total death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic. Excess all-cause mortality is calculated by taking expected mortality based on historical trends, and comparing it to observed mortality. Thus, people who died from COVID-related deaths are also taken into account, not just people who died from COVID-19 directly. People who chose not to go to the hospital after having a heart attack or uncontrolled diabetes because they were afraid of getting COVID, for example, or those who committed suicide following COVID-19 related hardships. Mortality rate reductions were also taken into consideration. For example, a potential decrease in flu-related deaths due to people staying home and wearing masks. Looking at data from April 2020 alone, researchers found that excess all-cause mortality was 2.4 per 10,000 people overall. That’s 30 percent more deaths than the number of COVID deaths during that month, the first full month of the pandemic. When taking racial demographics of excess all-cause mortality into account, disparities are even more pronounced. The Census Bureau’s report states “Black, non-Hispanic individuals experienced the highest excess all-cause mortality of 6.1 excess deaths per 10,000 individuals, a 79% increase from their predicted rate”. In contrast, it was reported that white, non-Hispanic people had 2.1 excess deaths per 10,000 people, a 21 percent increase. Hispanics of any race and Asian, non-Hispanic people both saw a 64 percent increase, with excess deaths at 2.7 and 2.9 per 10,000, respectively. Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic individuals had the lowest excess all-cause mortality, with excess deaths at 1.3 per 10,000 people, up 22 percent from the predicted rate.
Census data also showed that excess all-cause mortality in April 2020 skyrocketed with age. People 85 years old and older made up 34 percent of overall excess mortality, despite them making up only 3 percent of people 25 and older. The report goes on to say “without adjusting for age differences, excess mortality overstates the impact of the pandemic on White, non-Hispanic individuals who are, on average, older relative to other racial groups, and it understates it for all other racial and ethnic groups.” When taking age, sex and geographic differences into account, analysts concluded: “White, non-Hispanic individuals had the lowest excess mortality of 1.5 deaths per 10,000. Black, non-Hispanic individuals had the highest excess mortality of 6.8 deaths per 10,000.” Learn more about the recent COVID-19 mortality studies here:


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