New York: The number of U.S. deaths dropped this year, but there are still more than there were before the coronavirus hit.
Preliminary data — through the first 11 months of the year — indicates 2022 will see fewer deaths than the previous two COVID-19 pandemic years. Current reports suggest deaths may be down about 3% from 2020 and about 7% vs. 2021.
U.S. deaths usually rise year-to-year, in part because the nation’s population has been growing. The pandemic accelerated that trend, making last year the deadliest in U.S. history, with more than 3.4 million dying. If current trends continue, this year will mark the first annual decline in deaths since 2009.
It will be months before health officials have a full tally. The October and November numbers are not yet complete and a late-December surge could change the final picture, said Farida Ahmad, who leads mortality surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the decline does hold, it will still be a far cry from where the nation was before the coronavirus appeared. This year’s count is likely to end up at least 13% higher than what it was in 2019.
“We’re still definitely worse off than we were before the pandemic,” said Amira Roess, a George Mason University professor of epidemiology and global health.