Dec. 23, 2020 -- The number of deaths in the United States is expected to top 3.2 million by the end of December, making 2020 the deadliest year in the nation’s history, the Associated Press reported.

The coronavirus is driving the trend. Almost 320,000 people have died so far from coronavirus-related reasons, according to Johns Hopkins University. The daily death rate has been rising lately, with 1,696 people dying on Monday, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Official death statistics will not be available for months. But if the projections hold true and 3.2 million people die in the United States in 2020, that would be 400,000 more than in 2019 -- a 15% increase, the AP said.

“That would mark the largest single-year percentage leap since 1918, when tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers died in World War I and hundreds of thousands of Americans died in a flu pandemic. Deaths rose 46% that year, compared with 1917,” the AP said.

Robert Anderson, PhD, told the Associated Press that the number of COVID-19 deaths may actually be higher. Anderson is chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch, National Center for Health Statistics, at the CDC.

Some pneumonia deaths early in the year were not recognized as being coronavirus related, he said, adding that there have been an unexpected number of deaths from heart and circulatory ailments that may have been linked to COVID-19.

Drug overdoses have gone up, and health experts suspect this was because the pandemic made person-to-person treatments difficult, the AP said. The isolation of the pandemic may have meant more people used drugs by themselves and didn’t have a friend or relative nearby to call 911 when an overdose occurred, the news agency said.

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The Associated Press: "US deaths in 2020 top 3 million, by far most ever counted."

Covid Tracking Project

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