US COVID-19 Deaths in 2021 Surpass 2020 Total

Carolyn Crist

November 22, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The number of COVID-19 deaths recorded so far in 2021 has surpassed the total for 2020, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

Overall, more than 771,000 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the U.S. during the pandemic. About 385,000 were reported in 2020, according to CDC data, and more than 386,000 have been reported this year.

The 2021 total will continue to increase in coming weeks as COVID-19 cases rise again in 30 states, according to The Hill. The national average for new daily cases has surpassed 90,000 again.

States that were hit hard early in the pandemic had some of the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita in 2020, according to a recent analysis by The Wall Street Journal. The Northeast had some of the highest death rates per 100,000 residents, especially New Jersey and New York, as well as North Dakota and South Dakota.

This year, Southern states have reported the highest death rates due to a major surge caused by the contagious Delta variant. Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee have reported the highest death rates so far this year, the newspaper reported.

Vermont has the lowest COVID-19 death rate per 100,000 people since the pandemic began, according to the Journal. The state also has the most vaccinated population, with 72% fully vaccinated.

Mississippi has the highest death rate since the pandemic began, the newspaper reported. The state is among the least vaccinated states, with 47% fully vaccinated.

Most deaths tend to be among older adults, though younger people are dying more this year. About 81% of COVID-19 deaths hit ages 65 and older last year, falling to 69% this year. The deaths among people under 45 in 2021 have been more than double the deaths in that age group from last year.

In June, more people had died from COVID-19 globally this year than in 2020, according to an analysis that month by The Wall Street Journal. At that time, more than 1.883 million deaths had been recorded in the first 6 months of 2021, as compared to 1.88 million in 2020.

As of Monday, more than 5.1 million people worldwide had died from COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, the Johns Hopkins data shows.


Johns Hopkins University: "Coronavirus Resource Center."

CDC: "Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)."

The Hill: "US COVID-19 deaths in 2021 surpass last year‘s toll."

The Wall Street Journal: "U.S. Covid-19 Deaths in 2021 Surpass 2020‘s," "Covid-19 Deaths This Year Have Already Eclipsed 2020‘s Toll."


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