Special Report

A Million Lives Lost: The States Where the Most People Have Died From COVID-19

The United States recently passed a grim milestone. Since the beginning of the pandemic more than two years ago, more than 1 million people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19. This is the worst outbreak since the Spanish Flu ravaged the nation more than a century ago.

To determine the states where most people have died from COVID-19, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on COVID-19 deaths from various state and local health departments. States were ranked based on the total (cumulative) number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents as of May 13, 2022.

COVID-19 deaths surpassed deaths from the Spanish Flu in September 2021, when the number reached 676,000. As a percentage of the population, however, COVID-19 has been less lethal because today’s population is about three times the population 100 years ago. (Here are countries where the most people have died from COVID-19.)

There was no vaccination for the Spanish Flu a century ago, and the pandemic eventually ran its course. Vaccinations for COVID-19 became available for the general U.S. population in April 2021. According to the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that supports independent research on health care issues, vaccines have prevented 2.3 million deaths and more than 17 million hospitalizations in the U.S. through March 2022.

Vaccination rates are higher in New England, and that seems to correlate with that region’s lower fatalities rate from the pandemic compared with other areas of the country. An outlier in New England in terms of vaccination rates is Rhode Island. Even with the nation’s highest vaccination rate, there were 323.7 deaths per 100,000 in the state, 23rd highest. Rhode Island is the second-densest state in the country, with 709.1 people per square mile.

Lower population density seems to be no guarantee of lower fatalities, with the Western states of Nevada and New Mexico, among the 10 lowest in population density, both recording more than 343 deaths per 100,000 – among the top-20 for most fatalities per 100,000.

Many states in the South have some of the country’s lowest vaccination rates and also among the highest fatalities per 100,000. (These are the states that had more deaths than births in 2021.)

Click here for the states where the most people have died from COVID-19
Click here for our detailed methodology

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