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COVID-19 third leading cause of death in Montana

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News from DPHHS

The Department of Public Health and Human Services has released a new report that ranks COVID-19 associated deaths as the third leading cause of death in 2020 and will likely hold the same ranking for 2021.

State health officials note the death record information for 2021 is considered provisional information and will be finalized later in 2022. Also, it’s possible the 2021 leading causes of death rankings could change as death certificate data are finalized.

“As more data becomes available, DPHHS continues to produce reports such as this to demonstrate the impact of COVID-19 in Montana,” DPHHS Director Adam Meier said. “While Montanans may not be surprised by the reports’ findings, it serves as a reminder about the importance of getting the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. DPHHS strongly recommends that all eligible Montanans get vaccinated against COVID-19. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider or a pharmacist.”

The report reviewed data of COVID-19 deaths occurring Jan. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, from death certificates reported to DPHHS as of mid-October. During that time period, there were 2,100 COVID-19 deaths identified among Montana residents.

Some groups of people in Montana have been affected by the pandemic more than others. The COVID-19 mortality rate among American Indian/Alaska Native residents in Montana was four times greater than white Montana residents. And, AI/AN residents died of COVID-19 at younger ages than white residents; the median age at death was 68 years for AI/AN residents and 80 years among white residents.

“I can’t stress enough that these COVID-19 related deaths are almost entirely preventable,” said DPHHS acting State Medical Officer Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek. “Vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 infection and at preventing severe COVID-19 outcomes, such as hospitalization and death. We continue to urge eligible Montanans who have not gotten vaccinated to get vaccinated, and for those who are eligible, to get the booster shot to ensure they have adequate protection against the virus.”


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