Apr 29, 2022 - COVID

Colorado deaths to hit new high mark because of COVID-19

Data: Colorado Demography Office; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Colorado is projected to hit a grim milestone.

Driving the news: The state expects to record its highest rate of natural deaths in more than 50 years, according to an Axios Denver analysis of data from Colorado's Demography Office.

  • The state recorded 797 deaths per 100,000 residents, according to 2021 figures, exceeding the previous modern record set in 1970.

Why it matters: The mortality increase is predominantly driven by COVID-19, demographers said.

By the numbers: More than 46,000 deaths are expected from 2021, second only to 2019 in raw numbers.

  • That compares to nearly 15,500 births last year and the addition of 30,000 people via migration.

The big picture: In 2021, more than 73% of U.S. counties recorded a natural population decrease — more deaths than births — as fertility rates declined.

  • In Colorado, 55% of counties experienced a natural decrease, led by Denver (6,167) and Jefferson (3,347) counties in total numbers, new state data shows.
  • Overall, Colorado is still growing but at its slowest pace since the late 1980s.

Zoom in: The greatest year-over-year increases in deaths among the 11 largest counties occured in Pueblo, El Paso, Adams, Mesa and Weld, the figures show.

  • Denver saw the lowest increase in death rates among the group.

Between the lines: Colorado public health officials, citing a different data set, pointed to drug overdoses as another contributing factor in the increase in death rates.

What's next: State demographers forecast resident deaths to recede in 2022 to pre-pandemic levels with increases in COVID-19 immunity.

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