Number of excess COVID-19 deaths drops to pre-pandemic levels

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The U.S. has reached a significant pandemic-related milestone: the number of so-called excess deaths in America has dropped to pre-COVID-19 levels.

At the peaks of the pandemic, the number of Americans dying daily above what is deemed as normal levels skyrocketed. CDC data shows that at some points, it was almost 50% higher than expected nationwide. In California, the rate was more than 100% higher. But now, the number of excess deaths is no longer at abnormal levels.

"It really shows that the bulk of burden of disease has gone away," UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said.

The report and data were first compiled by The New York Times.

Doctors say three things have helped reach this point:

  • Most people have had a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Three quarters of the country has had COVID-19
  • Significant number of treatments now available for hospitalized patients

"There are interventions we can have to keep you away from the hospital and to keep you away from dying," Chin-Hong said. "One would say that almost all deaths are preventable at this moment from COVID, which is remarkable."

While daily COVID-19 cases aren't tracked anymore, hospitalizations still are in California. Those are also at all-time lows.

Chin-Hong said he'd like to see the levels remain low for another year.

"We need to really see one cycle, one whole year of the virus, to really make us feel confident that it’s come down to a predictable pattern," he said. "We’re still in the observation stage, but again good news so far from all of these metrics."

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