Provisional report: COVID-19 third highest cause of death in North Dakota

Provisional report: COVID-19 third highest cause of death in North Dakota
Provisional report: COVID-19 third highest cause of death in North Dakota(KFYR-TV)
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 3:55 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - In preliminary reports, North Dakota Department of Health and vital records reports an additional 1,600 total deaths in the state in 2020.

Many of those are attributed to the coronavirus.

The first coronavirus death was reported in North Dakota on March 27.

After claiming the lives of more than 1,000 North Dakotans, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the state in 2020. In nine months, the coronavirus became one of the most deadly diseases in the state.

“Having this one thing come out and rank top three, it’s scary,” said Grace Njau, director of special projects and health analytics.

The provisional report states 1,157 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 in 2020.

“COVID really did touch on the lives of almost everyone in the state in some way, shape, or form. And unfortunately that 1,600 is just a number, they are people’s families and loved ones,” said Njau.

A graph compares the average deaths from the last four years to 2020 provisional numbers. The blue line shows a spike near the end of the year.


“That excess mortality that you would expect from COVID really started to pick up around August. You do see between 70 and 80 percent of the excess deaths start to happen around August,” said Njau.

The leading cause of death was heart disease, followed by all cancers.

“One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Nayan Desai, interventional cardiology specialist.

Health leaders hope the vaccine rollout will lower death numbers this year.

“I’m very optimistic on what 2021 will look like, but I also think that will make 2020 look even worse because of how much better things may turn out to be if we’re able to vaccinate our most venerable and remove them out of that risk pool,” said Njau.

A total of 7,934 provisional deaths, and 10,050 births are reported to have taken place in the last year.

The final 2020 death and birth report is expected to come out in June.

Health Department leaders say they have a good auditing system in place, and don’t expect the numbers to change much.

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