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U of I Study Finds 2020 Deadlier Than Previous Five Years, Even with COVID-19 Numbers Removed

L. Brian Stauffer/UI Public Affairs: L. Brian Stau
From left: Sheldon Jacobson, professor of computer science; and Dr. Janet Jokela, professor of clinical medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign

A new study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds 2020 was a deadlier year than the previous five, even without COVID-19 numbers.

U of I Computer Science professor Sheldon Jacobson says deaths were up from March through November of last year, and 40 percent of them were not caused by the virus.

He says while seniors were hit the hardest by COVID, 15 to 24-year olds died at a higher rate from unrelated causes.

"Their odds of dying during the pandemic in 2020 was 18% higher than it had been in the previous five years. That was very, very eye opening to realize, yes they had minimal direct risk of dying from COVID-19, but the societal response created risk for them that was in fact was more dangerous than the virus itself."

Jacobson says it's important to study these figures in relation to the pandemic to improve future outcomes.