With the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reporting rising ICU utilization across the country due to COVID-19, the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel many had hoped to see appears to have dimmed considerably. The HHS data shows that in states like Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, nearly half of occupied adult ICU beds are taken by COVID-19 patients.

A recent study in JAMA Network, however, reveals some possibly surprising news: COVID-19 was one of the leading causes of death for Americans in 2020, but not the leading one.

The study, authored by Farida B. Ahmad, MPH, and Robert N. Anderson, Ph.D, used data from the National Vital Statistics System at the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md. "The NVSS collects, processes, tabulates, and disseminates vital statistics based on death certificates filed in the 50 states and the District of Columbia," the study's authors state. "Cause-of-death data are based on the underlying cause of death, which is the disease or condition responsible for initiating the chain of events leading to death."

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Richard Binder

Richard Binder, based in New York, is part of the social media team at ALM. He is also a 2014 recipient of the ASPBE Award for Excellence in the Humorous/Fun Department.