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NC’s Overall Death Rate Is Expected To Rise By 5% This Year, And COVID Is A Significant Factor

photo of drive-thru coronavirus testing in Chatham County
Staff Sgt. Mary Junell
U.S. Army Photo

North Carolina's overall death rate is projected to rise by 5% this year, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state Department of Health and Human Services says the death rate has been rising for the last several years, but officials expected it to increase by 2-3%. At her latest press briefing, state Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said COVID-19 has been blamed for more than 5,000 deaths this year.<--break->

To give some perspective, just under 1,500 people died from the flu in the past 10 years. In just 11 months, COVID has killed more than three times that number.

The state Health Department says it's not yet clear how many more fatalities could be indirectly related to the pandemic, like deaths from suicide.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise across North Carolina. The state Health Department reports more than 2,000 people are in the hospital with the coronavirus for the second day in a row.

The rolling seven-day average of COVID-19 tests coming back positive is almost at 9%. The state's goal is 5%.

Rebecca Martinez contributed to this report. 

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.
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