Health departments in several states confirmed to The Epoch Times that they are looking into a steep surge in the mortality rate for people aged 18 to 49 in 2021—a majority of which are not linked to COVID-19.
Deaths among people aged 18 to 49 increased more than 40 percent in the 12 months ending October 2021 compared to the same period in 2018–2019, before the pandemic, according to an analysis by The Epoch Times of death certificate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The agency doesn’t yet have full 2021 figures, as death certificate data has a lag of up to eight weeks or more.
The surge differed greatly from state to state, with the most dramatic increase in young-to-middle age deaths in the South, Midwest, and the West Coast, while the northeastern states generally saw much milder spikes. Public health authorities in several states with some of the largest increases are examining the issue.
Texas saw the 18 to 49 age mortality jump 61 percent, the second-highest increase in the country. Of that, less than 58 percent was attributed to COVID-19.
“Our Center of Health Statistics is looking at the data,” said Chris Van Deusen, the head of Media Relations at the Texas Department of State Health Services, via email. “We’ll get back with you.”
Florida, which saw an increase of 51 percent, 48 percent of that attributed to COVID-19, is also probing the matter.
“I am looking into it to see if there is some sort of correlation/causation,” said Jeremy Redfern, spokesman for the Florida Department of Health via email.
Nevada saw the highest increase, 65 percent, of which just 36 percent was attributed to COVID-19.
Shannon Litz, a public information officer at the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said via email she passed on questions regarding the mortality spike to the agency’s Office of Analytics “for review.”
The District of Columbia experienced an increase of 72 percent, none of it attributed to COVID-19.
Robert Mayfield, spokesman for D.C.’s health authority, referred The Epoch Times to the district’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), which suggested it lacked the expertise to analyze the phenomenon.
“OCME does not currently have an epidemiologist (the position is being advertised) so it has no present ability to analyze the data,” said the office’s spokesman Rodney Adams via email.
Arizona recorded a 57 percent increase, 37 percent of which was attributed to COVID-19.
Arizona’s Department of Health Services couldn’t respond to questions regarding the issue because its data is “not yet finalized,” said Tom Herrmann, the agency’s public information officer, via email.
Other states with some of the highest increases were Tennessee (57 percent up, 33 percent attributed to COVID-19), California (55 percent up, 42 percent attributed to COVID-19), New Mexico (52 percent up, 33 percent attributed to COVID-19), and Louisiana (51 percent up, 32 percent attributed to COVID-19). None of their health authorities responded to requests for comment.
The mortality surge seemed to be significantly milder in the northeast. New Hampshire saw no increase, Massachusetts had only a 13 percent spike (24 percent of it attributed to COVID-19), and New York, one of the worst-hit by the pandemic in the region, was up 29 percent (30 percent of it attributed to COVID-19).
CDC data on the causes of those excess deaths aren’t yet available for 2021, aside from those involving COVID-19, pneumonia, and influenza. There were close to 6,000 excess pneumonia deaths that didn’t involve COVID-19 in the 18 to 49 age group in the 12 months ending October 2021. Influenza was only involved in 50 deaths in this age group, down from 550 in the same period pre-pandemic. The flu death count didn’t exclude those that also involved COVID-19 or pneumonia, the CDC noted.
A part of the surge could be likely blamed on drug overdoses, which increased to more than 101,000 in the 12 months ending June 2021 from about 72,000 in 2019, the CDC estimated. About two-thirds of those deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl that are often smuggled to the United States from China via Mexico.
For those aged 50 to 84, mortality increased more than 27 percent, representing more than 470,000 excess deaths. Some 77 percent of the deaths had COVID-19 marked on the death certificate as the cause or a contributing factor.
For those 85 or older, mortality increased about 12 percent with more than 100,000 excess deaths. There were more than 130,000 COVID-related deaths in this group, indicating these seniors were less likely to die of a non-COVID-related cause from November 2020 to October 2021 than during the same period of 2018–2019.
Comparing 2020 to 2019, mortality increased some 24 percent for those aged 18 to 49, with less than a third of those excess deaths involving COVID-19. For those aged 50 to 84, mortality increased less than 20 percent, with over 70 percent of that involving COVID-19. For those even older, mortality jumped about 16 percent, with nearly 90 percent of it involving COVID-19.
For those under 18, mortality decreased about 0.4 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. In the 12 months ending October 2021, it fell some 3.3 percent compared to the same period in 2018–2019.