CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus US: in which states is the mortality rate higher and why?

As the surge in cases from the Delta variant leads to a massive wave of deaths, some areas are being hit much harder. How do they differ? Vaccination rates.

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Coronavirus US: in which states is the mortality rate higher and why?
JOHN MOORE AFP

Following the surge in covid-19 cases related to the more contagious Delta variant, the US is experiencing a sudden increase in deaths. On 21 September, the United States confirmed over 2,300 deaths, with the seven-day rolling average standing at just over 2,000.

However, the dramatic increase in deaths is not being seen in every state.

Rather than looking at deaths as a brute sum, public health experts often compare states based on their death or case rate as a proportion of 100,000 residents.

As an example, let’s compare two states: Alabama and California.

California has a population of around 39 million people, while Alamaba’s is about an eighth of the size, standing at roughly 4.9 million. During the pandemic, California has confirmed 68,244 deaths, while Alabama has recorded around 13,460. Many would look at this data and assume that the situation in California is worse. However, when comparing the mortality rate to 100,000 residents, California stands at 173, while Alabama’s is 275.

Which states have the highest covid-19 mortality rate?

When looking at the number of deaths per 100,000 residents, two states top 300, Mississippi (314) and New Jersey (307).

States with the Highest Covid-19 Mortality Rates

State Total Cases Per 100,000 Total Deaths Per 100,000 Fully Vaccinated
Mississippi 477,769 16,053 9,331 314 43%
New Jersey 1,137,016 12,801 27,240 307 64%
Louisiana 730,099 15,705 13,558 292 45%
New York 2,380,164 12,235 54,559 280 63%
Alabama 775,531 15,817 13,460 275 42%
Arizona 1,070,757 14,711 19,584 269 50%
Massachusetts 796,925 11,562 18,480 268 67%
Rhode Island 169,686 16,018 2,816 266 67%
Arkansas 486,853 16,133 7,499 248 45%
Florida 3,517,177 16,376 51,889 242 56%

Source: New York Times

More than half of the states -- twenty-seven -- has a number higher than 200.

Other states with higher mortality levels include Louisiana (292), New York (280), Alabama (275), Arizona (269), Rhode Island (266), Arkansas (248), and Florida (242). What differentiates these states is when they experienced a wave in deaths that brought their totals to these tragic levels.

Which states are currently experiencing high mortality due to covid-19?

Earlier this summer, Dr. Anthony Fauci called call deaths from covid-19 after vaccines because widely available to anyone who wanted one, “preventable.” Arizona, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island experienced most of these deaths during the first or second wave of the pandemic.


However, states like Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida are experiencing them now. In New Jersey, the average number of deaths as a proportion of 100,000 residents is .22 percent, less than one.  In Alabama, that number is more than two.

Where are the highest number of deaths occurring?

State Average Daily Cases Per 100,000 Average Daily Deaths Per 100,000 FullyVaccinated
Alabama 3,041 62 106 2.16 42%
Florida 9,112 42 376.4 1.75 56%
West Virginia 1,799 100 25.7 1.43 40%
South Carolina 3,696 72 68.4 1.33 46%
Mississippi 1,661 56 38.6 1.3 43%
Idaho 1,200 67 22.1 1.24 41%
Georgia 5,124 48 124.6 1.17 44%
Texas 13,874 48 284 0.98 50%
Louisiana 1,525 33 45.3 0.97 45%
Wyoming 513 89 5.3 0.91 41%

Source: New York Times

What do these states have in common?

While major surges in cases were still seen in these states, deaths have not followed the trend as many infected were protected. Many point to the increase in breakthrough cases to say that the vaccines are ineffective, but that only counts if your metric is cases.

The vast majority of public health experts tie the effectiveness of vaccines to how they impact hospitalizations and deaths. On this metric, it is clear that the vaccines are working: they keep people out of hospitals and keep people alive.

 Aside from Florida, all these states have a vaccination rate lower than that of the national average. Of the ten states with the highest mortality rate currently, around forty-five percent of the population is vaccinated, five points lower than the national average.

The same is true when looking at hospitalizations. In the ten states with the most covid-19 hospitalizations, the vaccination rate for the state stands at forty-six percent.