It is the deadliest year in American history, with the top 3 million people dying for the first time – mainly due to the coronavirus virus epidemic.
The final death data for this year will not be available for months. But preliminary numbers show that the United States is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 deaths in 2019.
American deaths tend to increase the most, so some annual increases are feared to die. But the 2020 numbers jump about 15 percent, and may be higher after all deaths have been counted this month.
Full coverage of coronavirus outbreaks
It would mark the largest single-year percentage jump since 1918, when tens of American soldiers died in World War I and hundreds of Americans died in a flu pandemic. Deaths increased 46 percent that year compared to 1917.
Pre-epidemic life expectancy
Kovid-19 has killed more than 318,000 Americans and counting. Before it came, there was reason to be hopeful about American death trends.
The overall mortality rate of the country fell slightly in 2019 due to a decrease in deaths from heart disease and cancer. And life expectancy rose – up to several weeks – for the second straight year, according to data on the death certificate released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the life expectancy for 2020 could be as long as three years, Robert Anderson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The CDC counted 2,854,838 American deaths last year, or about 16,000 more than in 2018. This is quite good news: usually around 20,000 to 50,000 people die every year, mainly due to the country’s aging and growing population.
Indeed, the age-adjusted mortality rate declined by about 1 percent in 2019 and the life expectancy rose by about six weeks to 78.8 years, the CDC reported.
“It was indeed a very good year for death,” said Anderson, who oversees the CDC death figures.
The American coronavirus epidemic has been a major driver of both direct and indirect deaths this year.
The virus was first identified in China last year and the first US cases were reported this year. But it has become the third leading cause of death behind only heart disease and cancer. For some periods of this year, Kovid-19 was the No. 1 killer.
But some other types of deaths have also increased.
An explosion of pneumonia cases earlier this year may have caused Kovid-19 deaths, which were not so quickly identified as epidemics. But Anderson said some types of heart and circulatory diseases, diabetes and dementia have also led to an unprecedented number of deaths.
Record of deaths due to drug overdose
Many of them may also be related to Kovid. He said the virus could weaken patients struggling with those conditions, or reduce the care they were receiving.
At the onset of the epidemic, some people were optimistic that a car crash would lead to death as people stopped attending social events or driving. There is no data on that yet, but anecdote reports indicate that there was no such decline.
Suicide deaths have decreased in 2019 compared to 2018, but initial information suggests they have not dropped this year, Anderson and others said.
Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronovirus outbreak
Meanwhile, deaths due to drug overdose worsened.
Even before the arrival of coronavirus, the US was in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history.
Data for all of 2020 is not yet available. But last week the CDC reported more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May, making it the highest number recorded in a year.
Experts believe that epidemic disruption may be a factor in an individual’s treatment and recovery services. People are more likely to take drugs alone – without the benefit of a friend or family member who can call 911 or administer an overdose-reversing drug.
But perhaps a bigger factor is the drugs themselves: Kovid-19 caused supply problems for dealers, so they are mixing cheap and deadly fenantyl in heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, experts said.
“I don’t doubt that there is a group of newcomers who suddenly start using drugs because of Kovid. If anything, I think people who are already using drugs have more supplies Is contaminated. ”Said researcher Shannon Monnat of Syracuse University, who studies the drug overdose trend.
Follow NBC Health at Twitter & Facebook.