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Provisional Mortality Data - United States, 2020.

CDC's National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) collects and reports annual mortality statistics using data from U.S. death certificates. Because of the time needed to investigate certain causes of death and to process and review data, final annual mortality data for a given year are typically released 11 months after the end of the calendar year. Daily totals reported by CDC COVID-19 case surveillance are timely but can underestimate numbers of deaths because of incomplete or delayed reporting. As a result of improvements in timeliness and the pressing need for updated, quality data during the global COVID-19 pandemic, NVSS expanded provisional data releases to produce near real-time U.S. mortality data.* This report presents an overview of provisional U.S. mortality data for 2020, including the first ranking of leading causes of death. In 2020, approximately 3,358,814 deaths† occurred in the United States. From 2019 to 2020, the estimated age-adjusted death rate increased by 15.9%, from 715.2 to 828.7 deaths per 100,000 population. COVID-19 was reported as the underlying cause of death or a contributing cause of death for an estimated 377,883 (11.3%) of those deaths (91.5 deaths per 100,000). The highest age-adjusted death rates by age, race/ethnicity, and sex occurred among adults aged ≥85 years, non-Hispanic Black or African American (Black) and non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) persons, and males. COVID-19 death rates were highest among adults aged ≥85 years, AI/AN and Hispanic persons, and males. COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in 2020, after heart disease and cancer. Provisional death estimates provide an early indication of shifts in mortality trends and can guide public health policies and interventions aimed at reducing numbers of deaths that are directly or indirectly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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