COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19 4th leading cause of death in 2020

COVID was responsible for 231 deaths in 2020

COVID-19 was the fourth leading cause of death in Alaska in 2020, according to a vital statistics report from the state Department of Health and Social Services.

The leading cause of death statewide in 2020 was cancer, followed by heart disease and accidental, unintentional injuries.

COVID-19 was responsible for 231 deaths in 2020, making up about 4.6% of all deaths that year, the report said.

The data refers to the crude death rate as the number of deaths per 100,000 residents. Because areas with higher proportions of older residents will naturally have higher crude death rates, the state configured an age-adjusted death rate so as not to skew the data.

The age-adjusted death rate is the years of potential life lost — the difference between an expected natural lifespan of 75 years and the actual age of death — per 100,000 Alaska residents under 75 years old.

According to the report, American Indian and Alaska Native residents had the highest age-adjusted death rate by race, at 100.1 per 100,000 people. Seniors were the most likely to die of the virus, with 78.4% of COVID-19 deaths occurring among residents 65 and older. More men died of COVID-19 than women.

The data found that contributing causes of COVID deaths in 2020, also called comorbidities, were heart disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.

In 2020, 28.6% of COVID deaths occurred in individuals with heart disease, and 11.3% in those with diabetes. Additionally, 10.4% of people who died of COVID-19 had chronic lower respiratory diseases.

The first COVID-19 case in Alaska was announced on March 12, 2020, and the first COVID deaths occurred two months later in May. December had the most COVID-19 deaths in 2020.

The report also states that the majority — 78.8% — of COVID deaths in 2020 occurred in an inpatient hospital, compared to the usual 33.3% of total deaths that typically occur at a hospital.

As of Monday, there had been a total of 1,052 COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents since the pandemic began, with the overwhelming majority occurring in September and October of 2021. COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations remain low, even now as the state is reporting the most cases it ever has.

The other six leading causes of death in 2020 in descending order were cerebrovascular diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases, suicide, diabetes, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Read the full 2020 vital statistics reports at

• Reach reporter Camille Botello at

More in News

(Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast for the week of Nov. 27

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry LeConte at the Auke Bay Terminal on Monday, March 5, 2018. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Petition seeks name change for LeConte state ferry

Petersburg man calling attention to what he calls Joseph LeConte’s racist history.

The deadly landslide that struck Wrangell on the night of Nov. 20 is seen the next day. Southeast Alaska is, by nature, vulnerable to such landslides, but climate change is adding to the risk by bringing more precipitation and more extreme rainfall events. (Photo provided by Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
Deadly Wrangell landslide is part of a pattern in vulnerable Alaska mountainous terrain

Scientists warn climate change, by increasing precipitation and extreme rainfall, adds to risks.

Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire File
Even the Grinch got into the holiday spirit at last year’s Gallery Walk on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.
An abundance of traditional and new ways to capitalize on this year’s Gallery Walk

More than 50 events scheduled Friday afternoon and evening from downtown to Douglas.

This view is from Wrangell on Sept. 11, 2022. (Photo by Joaqlin Estus/ICT)
Conservation group supports formation of new Alaska Native corporations

The conservation group the Wilderness Society has changed its position and now… Continue reading

From her hospital bed on Friday, Nov. 24, Christina Florschutz demonstrates how she pulled pajama bottoms that she found in the landslide debris over her legs, arms and head to keep warm. Her house was destroyed in the landslide, and after spending the night in the wreckage, she was rescued the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 21. (Caroleine James / Wrangell Sentinel)
Elementary school aide who survived Wrangell landslide calls circumstances a miracle

Christina Florschutz trapped overnight by landslide that killed at least 4 people, with 2 missing.

Lylah Habeger (left) and Jaila Ramirez lead the Konfeta Corps during a rehearsal of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” at Juneau Dance Theatre. The ballet will be performed in the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.At.Kalé auditorium Friday through Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Juneau Dance Theatre)
‘Nutcracker’ tradition, with a twirl of new choreography

This year’s performances feature a cast of 93, ages 5 to 78

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read