Over the past two years, 165,000 more Americans have died of natural causes, such as diabetes and hypertensive heart disease, than historical norms would lead researchers to expect. A smaller group of deaths from specific natural causes that the CDC has identified as potentially COVID-19-related shows a similar figure: 158,212 additional deaths during the pandemic than in the previous two years, as of last week.
These groupings of “excess” natural cause deaths are likely a step closer to the true toll of the pandemic than official tallies reveal, and would add as much as 15% percent to the closely-watched 1 million official COVID-19 death figure, as put forward by the CDC and other public health experts.
MuckRock and the Documenting COVID-19 project have created a new data repository, including the modeled estimates and CDC mortality data at the county level covering 2020 and 2021. This repository will allow journalists and researchers to further probe these deaths to look for local and regional patterns.