STUMP » Articles » Mortality with Meep: Baseline U.S. Mortality Stats for Comparison » 10 April 2020, 08:34

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Mortality with Meep: Baseline U.S. Mortality Stats for Comparison  


10 April 2020, 08:34

I have been getting irritated by a variety of news outlets reporting on death counts for COVID-19, and also projected death numbers, without any context of what “normal” mortality looks like.

So here I am to give you some numbers you can compare against.

Here it is in video form, and I have links and numbers below for your easy reference.


The National Center for Health Statistics has a Fast Facts page on deaths in the U.S..

Right now, it is showing final numbers for 2017. One would expect final numbers of 2018 to be published this summer.

Here are the current stats being shown:

Number of deaths: 2,813,503
Death rate: 863.8 deaths per 100,000 population
Life expectancy: 78.6 years
Infant Mortality rate: 5.79 deaths per 1,000 live births

The key numbers to remember [because they are concrete and easy to understand]:

2.8 million people died in the U.S. in 2017.

The crude death rate is less than 1%, so anything that pushes deaths above 1% of the population is elevated mortality.

Top causes of death:

Number of deaths for leading causes of death:
Heart disease: 647,457
Cancer: 599,108
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
Diabetes: 83,564
Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,672
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,633
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173

Obviously, where things land in this list is dependent on the categorization made. If one split out cancer into all the types of cancer, you would get a different ranking list.

The number to remember: 50 thousand deaths is enough to push a cause of death into the top 10 causes.

Final Data on U.S. Deaths for 2017 – report


I wrote about this in December 2019, but let me grab that table for your convenience.

I broke out some of the causes so you could see the differences in that old post.

For example, you may be interested in the accidental deaths [which includes accidental overdose]:

That is a considerable amount for seniors, but this is one of the causes of death that has a very different pattern than “natural” causes.

There are a lot more graphs at the older post.


Bookmark this post, or at least the CDC page with the stats.

It does no good to talk about tens of thousands of deaths, or hundreds of thousands of deaths, or even millions of deaths, unless you have a good idea what “normal” is.

Normal is: less than 1% of the U.S. population dying, overall.

Have a good Good Friday!

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