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The COVID death spike

Another way to visualize the data. It’s bad no matter how you look at it.

More than 51,000 Texans have died of COVID-19, according to the state’s latest tally.

That is larger than the capacity of Minute Maid Park, though it represents less than two-thousandths of Texas’ 29 million residents.

So, was the virus, which killed less than 2 percent of the Texans with documented cases, responsible for anything more than a blip in historical death trends?

An examination of Texas the past 50 years reveals the answer: Unequivocally yes.

Deaths in Texas historically are cyclical, explained Mark Hayward, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies mortality trends. They peak in winter with the annual flu season and ebb in summer, and steadily increase overall as the state’s population grows.

During the pandemic, however, that pattern was disrupted by a surge in mortality with no precedent in modern history. Hayward said that will lead to a decreased life expectancy for Texans; a British study published this week found the average lifetime of Americans decreased by almost two years in 2020.

“You don’t lose two or three years of life expectancy without actual catastrophe happening,” Hayward said. “Modern populations don’t go through that. In any kind of normal year, there’s never that kind of impact on a population’s mortality such as we’ve seen from COVID.”

Instead of falling in the summer, Texas deaths surged beginning in June 2020. They peaked in the third week of July at 6,211, up 71 percent over the same week the previous year. A second wave of the virus during the holiday season peaked the third week in January at 7,154, a 69 percent year-over-year jump.

The Chronicle examined weekly deaths in Texas back to 1964, the earliest year the state health department has reliable data. From that year through 2019, deaths in Texas increased an average of 2 percent annually. Deaths jumped 23 percent in 2020.

Considering that the pandemic reached Texas in March, deaths over the next 12 months jumped 32 percent over the previous year. Of the 285,108 Texas deaths between March 2020 and March 2021, 17 percent were from COVID-19, according to state health records.

You’ll need to click over to see the chart. It’s not just the number of deaths that increased – you would expect that based on overall population trends – but the rate as well. As the story notes, this is further evidence that the “official” COVID death count is well below the true number, with many factors contributing to the undercount. There’s nothing to be done about what has happened, but we might want to give some thought to why it happened this way and what we might do differently (and hopefully better) next time.

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One Comment

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    The death spike shows that Trump was right, when he said we “can’t let the cure be worse than the disease.” Sad to say, but Trump has been vindicated about most everything.

    When we look at the so called deaths from Covid, the numbers show that they are almost all over 65 years old. But younger people have been dying in higher numbers from drug overdose, suicide, the ballooning violent crime, the lack of healthy food, car crashes, neglecting medical screening and treatment for other conditions. In short, Project Fear is responsible for the largest part of the deaths of those under 65.

    We should give some thought to why it happened this way, and what to do differently next time. Some ideas would be to prosecute the guilty, such as Gov. Cuomo for forcing sick patients into care homes, and Fauci for pushing the panic button off and on. There life long incarceration would be a lesson for future would be celebrities who use an illness to advance themselves. Another good idea is to start treating patients with things like Ivermectin or Hdroxychloroquine, rather than spreading lies that they don’t work, in order to sell expensive patented products. It would also be good to force all Americans into classes on how PPE works. For example, I saw a Kroger cashier eating a snack with her gloves on! If you wear gloves for protection, you remove them carefully without touching them, then you wash your hands. You don’t eat, drink, use the bathroom, smoke, or touch your nose or eyes with the gloves on. Some other good ideas for next time: punish the news outlets for spreading fear. Also encourage people to stay at home when sick. We look at people who call off work for a cold as being lazy, but maybe that is the best thing to do. And make sure those people get paid for sick time. Healthy food and exercise should be more of a priority, to prevent obesity and the related health problems.

    This has also caused the biggest wealth transfer in the history of humanity. So perhaps the wealthy can pay for next time, since the ordinary people paid for this time.

    Hospitals don’t have extra space just waiting for emergencies, so perhaps they can be nationalized and the wealthy owners and presidents of these hospitals can be given regular jobs.