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5 States Where Young-Adult Deaths Are Spiking

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The state mortality numbers for the first half of September are starting to firm up, and the figures for people ages 25 through 44 look especially bad.

The numbers mean that the pandemic could have more of an effect on life insurers that insure the lives of working-age people, not just for insurers that sell final expense arrangements, or other products aimed at people ages 65 and older.

For health insurers, COVID-19 spikes have tended to have a nearly neutral effect, because reductions in claims for routine care mostly offset any increases in the cost of caring for people with COVID-19. But life insurers have reported that earlier COVID-19 spikes have had a noticeable effect on life insurance claim costs, even when the spikes were having a modest effect on the death rate for people under age 65.

In the first two weeks ending in September, the number of deaths of U.S. residents in the 25-44 age group spiked to 8,604.

The number of deaths of people in that age group was 22% higher than it was during the comparable period, and 57% higher than it was during the comparable period in 2019 — before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In the first half of 2021, which included the January spike, the number of deaths of people in the 25-44 age group was 38% higher than in the first half of 2019.

There are about 87.4 million people in the 25-44 age group in the United States, according to the Census Bureau.

In recent years, the typical death rate for people in the 25-44 age group has been about one death per 580 people per year.

In the first half of September, the death rate increased to the annualized equivalent of about one per 370 people.

For the five states with the worst increases in the number of deaths of people ages 25 to 44, for the first two weeks ending in September, between 2019 and 2021, based on the unweighted CDC data for the weeks included, see the slideshow above.

For data for all 50 states, based on the CDC’s unweighted data, see the table below.

Other Age Groups

The COVID-19 delta variant also led to an increase in the death rate for Americans in other age groups, but the picture for the 25-44 age group was worse than the picture for the rest of the population.

The total number of deaths of people in all age groups for the first two weeks ending in September increased about 36% from the count for the comparable period in 2019, to 141,860.

Vaccination efforts, social distancing efforts and other factors held the rate of increase for people in older age groups. For people ages 85 and older, for example, the number of deaths in the first two weeks ending in September, increased just 15%, to 36,213.

Data Woes

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts state-by-state death counts, broken down by age, in spreadsheets that are updated weekly.

Many states take months or years to send the CDC complete data, but the figures start to look reasonably complete by about four or five weeks after the end of the period covered in the reports.

Many states — including Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming — have 25-44 age group figures that are missing for 2019, for 2021, or for both years.

Other states may have figures that look like final figures but that are incomplete and will be revised in the future.

Possible Reasons

The CDC weekly data totals include the effects of the virus that causes COVID-19 along with the effects of all other causes of death.

Some of the increase in deaths of people ages 25 through 44 could be the results of the virus itself.

The increase could also reflect the effects of the pandemic on hospitals’ ability to care for people with conditions other than COVID-19.

A temporary boost in federal support for extra unemployment insurance benefits ended around Labor Day, and the increase in mortality could be due partly to the impact of increased economic stress due to cuts in unemployment insurance and other pandemic-related support programs.

Deaths of people ages 25-44 in the First Two Weeks Ending in September

2019 2020 2021
Alabama 105 136 219
Alaska  NA 33  NA
Arizona 116 203 272
Arkansas 57 83 104
California 564 696 881
Colorado 100 138 151
Connecticut 57 63 17
Delaware 11 12 NA
District of Columbia NA 26 25
Florida 369 478 851
Georgia 163 267 317
Hawaii 15 12 30
Idaho 13 37 40
Illinois 228 235 262
Indiana 148 139 125
Iowa 38 49 39
Kansas 52 63 73
Kentucky 96 145 102
Louisiana 130 151 101
Maine 15 24 29
Maryland 120 156 130
Massachusetts 107 117 123
Michigan 144 190 257
Minnesota 63 87 61
Mississippi 64 92 120
Missouri 137 157 108
Montana 13 13 30
Nebraska 18 11 24
Nevada 57 73 106
New Hampshire 27 14 35
New Jersey 126 153 160
New Mexico 68 74 75
New York 121 175 216
New York City 110 151 161
North Carolina 188 242 177
North Dakota  NA  NA 12
Ohio 232 274 348
Oklahoma 79 84 128
Oregon 74 81 99
Pennsylvania 258 293 271
Puerto Rico 65 62 77
Rhode Island NA 16 NA
South Carolina 124 154 195
South Dakota NA 20 NA
Tennessee 158 209 356
Texas 438 605 1,052
Utah 51 50 78
Vermont NA 11 13
Virginia 123 181 209
Washington 97 116 188
West Virginia 55 68 NA
Wisconsin 89 94 128
Wyoming  NA 11 29
TOTAL 5,483 7,024 8,604
Source: CDC, Weekly Counts of Deaths by Jurisdiction and Age, 

(Photo: Shutterstock)