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Analysts: COVID-19 becomes 2nd leading killer of Ohioans in December

Jake Zuckerman, Ohio Capital Journal




Photo Credit: University Hospitals

Since early December, COVID-19 has been killing more Ohioans per week than cancer, making it the second leading killer of Ohioans behind only heart disease, according to an analysis of state data.

Health Policy Institute of Ohio, a nonpartisan health policy and research group, gathered state data on Ohioans’ deaths from COVID-19 by week and measured it against week-by-week data from different leading causes of death in 2019.

The data shows COVID-19’s sharp ascendance as a lethal threat to the public health. While heart disease and cancer typically tower over any other leading cause of death in the U.S., the data captures a stark paradigm shift.

“Week by week, it’s right up there with heart disease,” said Zach Reat, an HPIO analyst.

Since March 1, 8,252 Ohioans have died from COVID-19 as of Tuesday. Despite the lack of deaths from the disease in January and February, COVID-19 is the 4th leading killer of Ohioans this year when compared to 2019 mortality data.

It’s likely to overtake accidents by Wednesday, which killed 8,291 Ohioans in 2019.

Amy Rohling McGee, HPIO’s president, said the data underscores the clear and present threat the coronavirus poses to the public health, despite political actors who have sought to downplay the risk.

It also serves as a reminder that until there’s a vaccine in full supply, which might not happen for months, only the crude tools of masks, isolation, testing, tracing and distancing will reduce the death toll.

“This is a serious situation. It remains a serious situation,” she said.