In July 2020, the death rate for people aged 25 to 44 climbed to more than 16,500 deaths — a figure researchers had estimated at barely more than 13,000.
This means the most bittersweet summer month ever saw more than 3,400 deaths no one expected — even taking into account the COVID-19 crisis — according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
While the societal impact of the COVID-19 crisis is likely to blame, we may not know the full scope of young American casualties for years.
July 2020 likely deadliest month ever for young Americans
It's a sad fact, but from early March to the end of July 2020, 76,088 Americans between 25 and 44 years old died — but not all were from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In the single month of July, the tally climbed above 16,500 deaths — a toll accurately described as the deadliest month in U.S. history for young adults.
'Excess' death rates from non-COVID-19 causes rising
While the coronavirus crisis was probably to blame for the July uptick in deaths, the bleak statistic serves as a grim reminder that age alone doesn't denote the ones at risk in communities.
The pattern has since continued through this year's seasons. Judging from trends seen in recent years, scientists would expect roughly 150,000 adults to die in this age group.
But this is not the world we live in now.
Roughly 7,070 lives lost aged 25 to 40s from COVID-19
As December crawls to a close, this number will probably rise to a figure beyond 170,000. But it's difficult to measure the "deadliest months" with respect to a range of variables plugged into a growing population. For example, during WWII, American casualties averaged at roughly 6,600 per month.
Needless to say, these figures are extraordinary — and while these are obviously extraordinary times, it turns out we can't blame the coronavirus alone for this one.
Judging from the CDC's count, nearly 2,000 people between 25 and 34 years old have already died from the COVID-19 illness. The figure more than doubles for people in their late 30s and early 40s — and taken together the number jumps to a total of 7,070 lives gone.
Beyond death toll, deeper COVID-19 damage awaits
Combining the official count with excess figures only accounts for slightly more than a third of all excess, non-coronavirus casualties, reports Science Alert.
This leaves a lot of non-pandemic death, and it implies roughly 62% of superfluous deaths in 2020 can't be officially blamed on pneumonia, fever, and the eventual organ failure seen with late-stage cases of COVID-19.
However, there's a deeper toll from the pandemic, lying just beneath the surface, like the colossal frozen body of an iceberg.
'Inadequate testing' for normal health issues likely to blame
It's hard to say how the coronavirus crisis has damaged our healthcare system in more indirect ways — including the way we pursue medical care for non-coronavirus reasons, the way we socialize, exercise, and even eat.
Crucially, the official tallies might represent a mere fraction of the damage done to communities. It's also hard to say how many of these ostensibly non-coronavirus-related deaths we can attribute indirectly to the pandemic — but researchers assure us it's no reach to assume the connection.
"Although the remaining excess deaths are unexplained, inadequate testing in this otherwise healthy demographic likely contributed," suggest the researchers in their recent report.
Sadly, it takes time to gather and analyze data and provide a legitimate touchstone for grasping this process. And with 2020 still crawling through our lives, we've yet to have access to statistics for easy number crunching and generalized conclusions. This will take years to finalize, but for now, the best we can do is look back on earlier years and guesstimate how 2020 might ultimately turn out.