News Story

COVID Not The Only Killer: Pandemic’s ‘Excess Deaths’ Could Include Some From Government’s Response

Suspending medical screenings and nonessential treatments also have costs

The state of Michigan had the 11th-highest number of pandemic-related excess deaths in the U.S. between March 1 and Aug. 1. That’s according to research published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Excess deaths” is defined as the number of deaths that exceeds the normal, expected number. The number includes individuals who have died from COVID-19 itself. But it also includes the lives lost “indirectly through delayed care for acute emergencies, exacerbations of chronic diseases, and psychological distress (eg, drug overdoses)” among other causes, according to the publication.

Michigan had the 11th-highest mortality rate nationwide from March 1 to Aug. 1, 2020. It also had the 11th-highest number deaths observed from all causes that are over-and-above the total number of people who would be expected to die from the novel coronavirus alone. The study had Michigan ranking 10th among all states but the study didn't include Washington, D.C. into its rankings. If Washington D.C. is added, Michigan ranks 11th.

According to the study, deaths may be undercounted during the pandemic because there may be people dying due to the pandemic restrictions but not having contracted COVID-19 - such as a drug overdose. 

The study states, "Moreover, restrictions imposed by the pandemic (eg, stay-at-home orders) could claim lives indirectly through delayed care for acute emergencies, exacerbations of chronic diseases, and psychological distress (eg, drug overdoses)."

Without the pandemic, Michigan could be expected to have experienced 40,047 deaths from March 1 through Aug. 1, 2020. The actual number of deaths in the state was 48,854 during that period, meaning there were 8,797 “excess deaths” during those 153 days.

But not all of these were caused by COVID-19. The disease is responsible for 5,866 of the state’s excess deaths, or 67% of the total. This leaves 2,931 individuals in Michigan who died during the pandemic, though not from the virus. Government responses to the pandemic may also be implicated in some or many of the excess deaths not attributable to the virus.

Data used in the new research came from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.