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Opinion
Justin Fox

Young American Adults Are Dying — and Not Just From Covid

Last year’s mortality rate for those aged 25 to 34 wasn’t any better than in 1953 as more deaths were driven by guns and drugs.

An awareness march on Overdose Awareness Day highlighted the toll taken on younger adults.

An awareness march on Overdose Awareness Day highlighted the toll taken on younger adults.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Nearly 19% more Americans died in 2020 than in 2019, according to data that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates each week as more reports from state and local medical examiners trickle in (meaning that the 2020 numbers will keep rising although likely not by much).

This is the biggest such increase since 1918, when deaths rose 30%. Deadly pandemics will do that. In a chart of overall U.S. mortality rates since 1900, both years stand out as anomalies amid a trajectory of — if you adjust for the aging of the U.S. population — sustained decline.