Changes in all-cause and cause-specific mortality during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota: population-based study

Rozalina G. McCoy, Ronna L. Campbell, Aidan F. Mullan, Colin M. Bucks, Casey M. Clements, R. Ross Reichard, Molly M. Jeffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in unprecedented increases in mortality in the U.S. and worldwide. To better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mortality in the state of Minnesota, U.S.A., we characterize the changes in the causes of death during 2020 (COVID-19 period), compared to 2018–2019 (baseline period), assessing for differences across ages, races, ethnicities, sexes, and geographic characteristics. Methods: Longitudinal population-based study using Minnesota death certificate data, 2018–2020. Using Poisson regression models adjusted for age and sex, we calculated all-cause and cause-specific (by underlying causes of death) mortality rates per 100,000 Minnesotans, the demographics of the deceased, and years of life lost (YLL) using the Chiang’s life table method in 2020 relative to 2018–2019. Results: We identified 89,910 deaths in 2018–2019 and 52,030 deaths in 2020. The mean daily mortality rate increased from 123.1 (SD 11.7) in 2018–2019 to 144.2 (SD 22.1) in 2020. COVID-19 comprised 9.9% of deaths in 2020. Other categories of causes of death with significant increases in 2020 compared to 2018–2019 included assault by firearms (RR 1.68, 95% CI 1.34–2.11), accidental poisonings (RR 1.49, 95% CI 1.37–1.61), malnutrition (RR 1.48, 95% CI 1.17–1.87), alcoholic liver disease (RR, 95% CI 1.14–1.40), and cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases (RR 1.28, 95% CI 1.09–1.50). Mortality rates due to COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 causes were higher among racial and ethnic minority groups, older adults, and non-rural residents. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a 17% increase in the death rate in Minnesota relative to 2018–2019, driven by both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 causes. As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, it is imperative to examine and address the factors contributing to excess mortality in the short-term and monitor for additional morbidity and mortality in the years to come.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2291
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Epidemiology
  • Mortality
  • Pandemic
  • Population health
  • Rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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