An additional 75,000 Americans may have died in the spring and summer because of COVID-19, a new study found

Medical staff wearing full PPE push a stretcher with a deceased patient to a car outside of the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on June 30, 2020 in Houston, Texas.Go Nakamura/Getty Images
  • Approximately 75,000 more Americans died from issues related to COVID-19 from the beginning of March to the beginning of August, according to a peer-reviewed study published by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University.
  • The study found that the number of deaths in the US between March 1 and August 1 was 20% higher than is typical, but just 67% of the excess deaths had been officially attributed to the novel coronavirus.
  • According to the study, deaths in the excess could be the result of undetected COVID-19 infection or the result of delays in medical care caused by the pandemic.
  • According to an official tally from Johns Hopkins University, at least 215,000 people in the US have died from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Approximately 75,000 more Americans may have died from causes related to COVID-19 from the beginning of March to the beginning of August, according to a new study published Monday by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University.

While the researchers determined that approximately 150,000 deaths during the five months in the US had been officially attributed to COVID-19 during the time period, there were more than 225,000 excess deaths during the same months that were studied.

The study was published in the Journal of American Medicine by researchers in Richmond, Virginia, who examined death certificates between March 1 and August 1 of this year.Advertisement

"There have been some conspiracy theories that the number of deaths from COVID-19 have been exaggerated," Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, told USA Today. "The opposite is the case. We're actually experiencing more death than we thought we were."

According to the study, between the months of March and July, there were 1,336,561 deaths in the US, 20% more than had been anticipated during that time period. Of the excess deaths, 67% were officially attributed to COVID-19, while others in the excess were attributed to factors like heart disease and Alzheimer's disease, according to the study.

In Sunbelt states, for example, the number of excess deaths began to increase at the beginning of the pandemic and rose significantly during the months of June and July when those states were experiencing large outbreaks of COVID-19 during the summer.
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Over the months that were studied, the highest per-capita deaths occurred in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Michigan, the study found. Also according to the study, states that experienced acute surges in April, like New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts, had shorter epidemics than states with leaders who reopened shuttered businesses more quickly. These states saw larger increases in excess deaths that lasted into the summer, the researchers found.

"This suggests it has some policy implications in terms of the consequences of the decision of some states to ease restrictions early in the pandemic," Woolf told USA Today. "It's sort of a warning call going forward." The excess deaths not previously linked to the novel coronavirus could be the result of "unrecognized or undocumented infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome" or could also be the result of disruptions in medical care caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the study. Advertisement

According to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University, there have been at least 215,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the US, resulting from more than 7.8 million infections.

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