US death rate jumps by nearly 16 percent

The death rate in the United States jumped by 15.9 percent between 2019 and 2020, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday. 

The coronavirus was responsible for about 1 in 10 deaths in the country in 2020, and was the third-leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. 

Overall, COVID-19 was the underlying cause of about 345,000 deaths last year and was a contributing cause for another roughly 32,000, which together is 11.3 percent of all deaths in the country last year, the CDC said. 


The figures highlight the stunning death toll from the virus, and one that has climbed even higher this year. There are currently over 547,000 deaths from the virus, according to the CDC. 

Amid COVID-19, the country’s overall death rate increased by 15.9 percent in 2020, from 715.2 to 828.7 deaths per 100,000 people, the CDC said. 

While new deaths from the virus have fallen significantly from their peaks in January, there are still about 1,000 people dying from COVID-19 every day. 

CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — Walensky gives green light for boosters Biden urges all eligible Americans to get a booster shot CDC director partially overrules panel, signs off on boosters MORE issued a dire warning on Monday about another possible spike as more contagious variants are on the rise and states lift restrictions. 

“I'm going to lose the script, and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” she said Monday. 

Experts are urging Americans to maintain precautions like wearing a mask and distancing from others for a few more weeks, to give time for vaccinations to become more widespread. 

Overall, the CDC said, heart disease was the underlying cause of death for 690,000 people last year, the leading cause of death. It was followed by cancer at 598,000, and COVID-19 was third, at 345,000.