CDC: COVID-19 Deaths Peaked in Mid-April; Down 86% by Week Ending June 20

Susan Jones | July 7, 2020 | 12:12pm EDT
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(Photo by John Paraskevas/Newsday RM via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Paraskevas/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

(Note: This story, originally published on July 7, was updated on July 8 to reflect the numbers reported by the CDC as of that date.)

( - The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in the United States peaked at 16,394 in the week ending on April 18, 2020, according to the provisional COVID-19 death counts published by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By the week ending on June 20, deaths involving COVID-19 had dropped to 2,287--a decline of 86 percent from the peak of 16,394.

The total number of deaths involving COVID-19 in all 50 states and District of Columbia stood at 114,741, according to NCHS.

The weekly COVID-involved death count, as reported by the CDC, has been steadily dropping since it hit its peak in mid-April, based on the numbers reported by NCHS.

"Provisional death counts deliver the most complete and accurate picture of lives lost to COVID-19," says NCHS.

"The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) uses incoming data from death certificates to produce provisional COVID-19 death counts," says NCHS. 

"Provisional death counts may not match counts from other sources, such as media reports or numbers from county health departments," says NCHS. "Counts by NCHS often track 1-2 weeks behind other data."

"While 80 percent of deaths are electronically processed and coded by NCHS within minutes, most deaths by COVID-19 must be coded by a person, which takes an average of 7 days," says NCHS.

According to the NCHS data posted as of July 8, there were 2,287 COVID-involved deaths in the week ending June 20, the most recent week that ended more than two weeks ago. That is an 86 percent drop from the peak week ending April 18, when CDC reported a record 16,394 COVID-involved deaths.

CDC notes that when a person dies, the cause of death is determined by the physician, medical examiner, or coroner who reports it on the death certificate. States register all death certificates and send them to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), where they are used to produce the nation’s official death statistics.

The first COVID-involved death in this country was reported to the CDC in the week ending February 8.

The death count reached double digits (33) one month later, in the week ending March 7; triple digits (555) two weeks later; four digits (3,061) in the week ending March 28; then the COVID death count climbed to highs of 15,734 and 16,394 for the weeks ending April 11 and April 18, respectively. Since then, deaths in the United States involving COVID-19 have been on a downward trend.

CDC says COVID-19 deaths are identified using a new ICD-10 code. When COVID-19 is reported as a cause of death –- or when it is listed as a “probable” or “presumed” cause —- the death is coded as U07.1. This can include cases with or without laboratory confirmation.

CDC also noted that states report at different rates, although 63 percent of all U.S. deaths are reported within 10 days of the date of death.

"Other reporting systems use different definitions or methods for counting deaths," CDC explained.

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