COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

After a devastating surge in the spring, COVID-19 deaths have slowed down somewhat this summer in the U.S. But not nearly enough.

More than 180,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19 so far. And this is right on par with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted back in April. They estimated that somewhere between 180,000 and 200,000 Americans would die from COVID by Sept. 1.

Based on these numbers, COVID is now beating accidents, injuries, lung disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s as a leading cause of death in the U.S. In fact, at this point, there are only two conditions that top it— heart disease and cancer.

That means COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S — and the year is far from over.

How many more people will die?

In early August, The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that somewhere around 300,000 people will die from COVID-19 by Dec. 1.

If this estimate is accurate, COVID-19 will stay the third leading cause of death. In fact, both cancer and heart disease cause nearly double that amount of deaths each year, so there isn’t any likelihood of COVID surpassing those two terrible diseases, thankfully.

But still, 300,000 deaths are significant. It’s far more deaths than any other country is likely to experience. In fact, no other country has surpassed 100,000 COVID deaths yet other than Brazil — and they still have over 60,000 fewer deaths than the U.S. Of course, you have to take into account that the U.S. has a larger population than most other countries (besides China and India). But regardless, there’s no denying that the pandemic has hit us harder than many of our counterparts in the Western world.

In fact, as of early August, Americans were eight times more likely to die from COVID than Europeans. So, what can we do to turn this pandemic around in America?

Mask up…

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimate that around 300,000 people will die from COVID-19 by Dec. 1 is based on a model where about 50 percent of Americans wear masks. If 99 percent of Americans wore masks, that figure would be lower.

They estimate that a significant increase in the number of Americans wearing masks could bring the death count to 264,000 by Dec. 1. That’s 66,000 lives saved.

As hard as it is, Americans also need to keep their caution levels from slipping… even when COVID cases aren’t as plentiful as they were before. Often, as numbers begin to drop, people stop wearing masks and start socializing more, which causes cases to increase again, according to researchers.

And although you should always wear a mask when you’re out in public, you shouldn’t let it lull you into a false sense of security. Even if you’re wearing a mask, large crowds are a bad idea. By staying cautious (even when it’s hard), you could be saving someone’s life — maybe your own, maybe a loved one’s or maybe someone you’ve never even met.


COVID the Third-Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. — WebMD.

Covid-19 world map: which countries have the most coronavirus cases and deaths? — The Guardian.

Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and