Covid-19 has killed 250,000 people in the US. That's 10 times the deaths from car crashes in a year
Updated 6:01 PM ET, Wed November 18, 2020
In less than 10 months, Covid-19 has killed more people than strokes, suicides and car crashes typically do in a full year -- combined.
The victims include an elderly father and his grown daughter who died within moments of each other. Two parents who died before their son's 5th birthday. In rare cases, even children with no known prior health conditions.
Health experts say if Americans don't get more serious about wearing masks and avoiding careless socializing, the rate of deaths will keep soaring this fall and winter.
Here's a look at how deadly Covid-19 is, compared with several other causes of death in the US. To get a more balanced picture, we took the five-year annual average ending in 2018, the latest available year of data for most causes.
Car crashes and Covid-19
Coronavirus has killed 250,000 people in the US in less than 10 months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
On average, 24,166 people die each year in car crashes, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (The number includes drivers or passengers killed in car crashes, not others such as bicyclists or pedestrians who were killed as the result of car crashes.)
That means at least 10 times more people have died from Covid-19 so far this year than car crashes typically do over an entire year.
Flu and Covid-19
An average of 42,200 people died from the flu each year from 2014 through 2018, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So in less than 10 months, Covid-19 deaths have reached more than five times the average number of annual flu deaths.
The new coronavirus isn't just deadlier than the flu -- it's also much more contagious than the flu.
Suicides and Covid-19
The number of Covid-19 deaths is now five times higher than deaths by suicide each year.
On average, 45,439 people died by suicide from 2014 through 2018, according to CDC data.
Researchers from New York University are concerned the number of suicides will be higher in 2020 due to pandemic stress.
Heart disease and Covid-19
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. An average of 670,595 people die from heart disease each year, according to CDC data.
While Covid-19 isn't expected to surpass heart disease in the number of deaths over an entire year, the daily death toll from Covid-19 could soon outpace the daily death rate from heart disease, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.
He cited the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which has projected Covid-19 will kill 2,500 people in the US a day in January.
"What that means, practically speaking, is that Covid-19 could be the single leading cause of death in the United States on a daily basis," Hotez said.
According to the American Heart Association, an average of 2,353 people died each day from cardiovascular disease (including heart disease), based on 2017 data.
On Tuesday, the US reported 1,707 new Covid-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. (The seven-day average of daily deaths was 1,156.)
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor at George Washington University School of Medicine, said the current daily death count "reflects the number of people who were being infected three weeks ago -- two to three weeks ago, because that's the lag" between infections and deaths.
"On average, two to three weeks ago, we were seeing 70,000 to 80,000 (new) cases per day," Reiner said.
But Tuesday's new case count was much higher: 161,934, according to Johns Hopkins.
"So if you're alarmed at the 1,700 deaths ... two to three weeks from now, we're going to see 3,000 deaths a day."
Cancer and Covid-19
Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the US, and that's not expected to change this year.
An average of 612,725 people die of cancer in the US each year, according to CDC data.