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Deaths From COVID-19

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

In any year, keeping track of new health trends can be difficult. But this year, the dynamic nature of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has made clarity almost impossible. Declines in mortality, after daily COVID-19–related deaths peaked last spring, initially fueled hope that the worst was over. But following a summer increase in deaths, trends have accelerated even faster. This fall, a million new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, which previously had increased monthly, began appearing weekly; as of December 13, cumulative infections totaled more than 16 million in the United States.1 Meanwhile, the media regularly report a flood of statistics that can be difficult to contextualize.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, Kresge 401, Boston, MA 02115 (hkoh@hsph.harvard.edu).

Published Online: December 17, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.25381

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Koh reported receiving grants 77667 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, UL1TR002541 from the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Science, 5U48 DP006376-02 from the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research Centers, 61075 from the Templeton Foundation, and 1085 from the JPB Foundation. Dr VanderWeele reported receiving grants 61075 and 61907 from the John Templeton Foundation and personal fees from Aetna Inc, and Flerish Inc. Mr Geller reported receiving compensation as a contributor to UptoDate. No other disclosures were reported.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein represent the authors’ personal views and do not reflect the beliefs of Harvard University. Any reference to a business, product, or service does not represent endorsement.

Additional Contributions: We thank Kirk Vanda, MBA, and Chelsea Heberlein, MPH, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for their assistance on this article, neither of whom were compensated for their contributions.

References
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2.
Woolf  SM , Chapman  DA , Lee  JH .  COVID-19 as the leading cause of death in the United States.   JAMA. Published online December 17, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.24865Google Scholar
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Woolf  SH , Chapman  DA , Sabo  RT , Weinberger  DM , Hill  L , Taylor  DDH .  Excess deaths from COVID-19 and other causes, March-July 2020.   JAMA. 2020;324(15):1562-1564. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.19545PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Woolf  SH , Schoomaker  H .  Life expectancy and mortality rates in the United States, 1959-2017.   JAMA. 2019;322(20):1996-2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.16932PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Issue brief: reports of increases in opioid- and other drug-related overdose and other concerns during COVID Pandemic. American Medical Association; 2020. Updated December 9, 2020. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.ama-assn.org/system/files/2020-11/issue-brief-increases-in-opioid-related-overdose.pdf
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American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Association. Children and COVID-19 state data report. Published December 6, 2020. Accessed December 10, 2020. https://downloads.aap.org/AAP/PDF/AAP%20and%20CHA%20-%20Children%20and%20COVID-19%20State%20Data%20Report%2012.3.20%20FINAL.pdf
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