Home / Health / Articles / Excess deaths dropped to pre-pandemic levels in July. Then came the Delta variant

COVID-19 deaths decreased in July to the point where it did not impact the US death rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  In 2020, the number of deaths increased by 30%, largely due to COVID-19. This resulted in 572,000 more Americans dying than expected, a term called “excess deaths.” But state and local health data show the Delta variant is responsible for another rise in COVID-19 deaths, particularly for unvaccinated people.

The CDC calculates excess deaths by using historical trends and seasonal patterns to set an expected number of deaths and then compare it to the actual number of deaths in a given time period.

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As COVID-19 deaths decrease, heart disease, and cancer remain top causes of death.

Weekly COVID-19 deaths outnumbered the top two causes of death, heart disease , and cancer, twice in the pandemic. The largest spike lasted from November 2020 through January 2021, before falling by 80% in the following months.

The CDC counts anyone who died with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis as a COVID-19 death, while also counting any other cause, such as an underlying condition or other complication[1]. This means the cause of death figures can’t be added up to total deaths in a given time period.

The number of people dying of COVID-19 dropped below stroke and lower respiratory disease deaths in June. Half the US population was fully vaccinated by the end of July.

COVID-19 deaths dropped 80% in the first three months of 2021.

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Although the CDC has not released complete cause of death data for August, state and local public health data suggest COVID-19 deaths are rising again due to the rise of the Delta variant, particularly among unvaccinated people.

Examine more COVID-19 data on the cases map and the vaccine tracker.

Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19
Weekly Provisional Death Counts

Weekly deaths by cause may overestimate the number of total deaths as cases with multiple causes of death might be double counted.