November 2022 Release

The first Michigan resident COVID-19 death was reported on February 25, 2020, and by the end of the 2021, 24,976 residents had died of the virus. As of December 31, 2021, the number of male deaths was 13,889 and the number of female deaths was 11,087. The age-adjusted rate of coronavirus deaths was 86.5 per 100,000 persons in 2020 and increased to 106.9 in 2021, with the largest deaths occurring in winter of both years. Male COVID-19 age-adjusted rates were about 60% higher than female rates. Men died at a rate of 109.8 per 100,000 males in 2020 and 135.1 in 2021 and women died at a rate of 68.1 per 100,000 females in 2020 and 84.3 in 2021. (See Number and Rate of COVID-19 Deaths by Sex & Race, 2021.) In addition to causing 24,976 deaths outright, COVID-19 also contributed indirectly to 3,101 Michigander deaths who were already sick. Therefore, the number of those dying due to COVID-19, either due to the underlying cause of death, or as a related cause of death, was 28,077.

Figure 1 charts all COVID-19 deaths during 2020 to the first half of 2022. At the beginning of the outbreak, 3,792 people died in April, followed by a second major spike of 5,477 deaths between November and December. A third spike occurred between March to June 2021, when 3,605 Michigan residents died of COVID-19. The last major spike started in Fall 2021; between September 2021 to February 2022, 10,834 Michigan residents died of the coronavirus.

Figure 1. Total, COVID-19 & Historical Three-year Average Deaths By Week,
Michigan Residents, January 1, 2020-July 2,2022

Michigan weekly counts of deaths, COVID-19 deaths versus 2017-2019 weekly death counts.

During March and April of 2020, Figure 1 shows a large spike in mortality that was not reported as COVID-19 deaths. Michigan's Division for Vital Records & Health Statistics (DVRHS) suspects that these excess deaths were mostly due to COVID-19. Because standardized federal coding guidance was not completely desiminated in March and during April1, COVID-19 deaths were sometimes reported as pneumonia deaths or deaths due to respiratory aspiration instead. However, long after the coding guidelines were firmly established, between November 2021 to January 2022, there was another spike in excess deaths not attributal to COVID-19. Excess deaths included increases in homicides, stroke, accidents and drug-induced mortality. (For specific Michigan mortality trends, see Homicide, Stroke, Accident or Drug-Induced mortality age-adjusted rates, 1989-2021.)

Michigan Counties and Health Districts. In 2021, the Thumb and many other counties, most of which are rural areas centrally located in the lower peninsula, suffered COVID-19 mortality rates over 125 deaths per 100,000. In particular, Central Michigan Health Department (AAR 142.8), District Health Department #2 (AAR 144.7) and the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Health Department (AAR 132.1) coronavirus mortality rates were all over 130 in 2021, but less the 100 in 2020. Wayne county's mortality rate declined from to 146.8 to 120.4 deaths per 100,000; however, this is still a high death rate and there were 2,488 deaths in 2021. Detroit City COVID-19 death rate also declined from 221.9 in 2020 to 139.8 in 2021. (See Number and rate of COVID-19 deaths by health district.)


Figure 2. COVID-19 Age-adjusted Mortality Rates by County
Michigan Residents, 2020 and 2021
Map of age-adjusted COVID-19 mortalty rates by Michigan county.



Race, Sex and Age. Almost 80% of all the COVID-19 deaths reported were white deaths who died at a rate of 100 per 100,000 white population. Black deaths comprised about 15% of the reported coronavirus deaths and the mortality rate was 156.3 per 100,000 black population. About 4% of the coronavirus deaths were those with Hispanic ancestry; however, the Hispanic mortality rate was very high--165.0 per 100,000. (See COVID-19 deaths and rates by race & sex.)

Figure 3. COVID-19 Age-adjusted Mortality Rates,
By Race or Hispanic Ancestry
Michigan Residents, 2021

Michigan COVID-19 age-adjusted rates by race and sex.

COVID-19 mortality rates were almost always higher for men than women among every age group and among every race. The rates follow a staircase pattern by age; younger persons were much less likely to die of COVID-19, while older age-groups had very high rates. For example, black men under age 55 died at a rate of 43 per 100,000 and black men over age 84 died at a rate of 1,973 per 100,000. Hispanic men under age 55 died at a rate of about 51 per 100,000 and Hispanic males over 84 died at a rate of 2,336 per 100,000. (See COVID-19 Deaths and age-specific rates by race, sex & age..)

Area Deprivation Index. Area Deprivation Index2 (ADI) uses American Community Survey data--income, education, employment, and housing quality--to measure neighborhood quality. Figure 4 shows crude rates by ADI. The rates grow increasingly higher as neighborhood quality decreases. (See Number and Rate of COVID-19 Deaths by Area Depriviation Index.)

Figure 4. COVID-19 Crude Rates by Area Deprivation Index
Michigan Residents, 2021

Michigan COVID-19 Crude Rates by Area Deprivation Index.


Other Causes of Death. At an age-adjusted rate of 106.5 per 100,000, COVID-19 became the third leading cause of death, below heart disease (AAR 209.5) and cancer (AAR 160.2), but about 72% higher than deaths due to accidents (AAR 61.8). Certain causes of death were often listed as a secondary causes, co-morbidities, or related causes of death to COVID-19. Pneumonia and flu were listed as a COVID-19 related cause of death 61% of the time; heart disease was listed about 29% of the time; and Nephritis, Diabetes and Septicemia or other diseases were listed less frequently. (See COVID-19 deaths and related causes of death.)

Other than COVID-19 deaths, certain causes of death changed significantly as compared to the three-year average 2017-2019 rates. Among the causes of death commonly calculated, diabetes-related mortality rates grew from 66 per 100,000 to 88.8 (2020) and 91.9 (2021)—almost a 40% increase since before the pandemic. Homicides increased by 38% in 2021, compared to the 2017-2019 average. Stroke deaths rose by 16.7%. Accidental deaths also grew, with rates of drug overdoses, falls, and transport accidents all increasing. (See Fatal Injuries for detailed breakdowns of accidents and homicide deaths.) Suicide rates decreased by 3.5% in 2020 but by 2021, the suicide rate is about the same as before the pandemic. Suicide rates had risen from 1999 to 2018; and 2019 and 2020 rates, though decreasing, are still very high compared to rates 20 years ago. Some selected causes of mortality are listed in the table below.


Table A. Age-adjusted Death Rates,
Percent Change versus 2017-2019
Michigan Residents, 2020 and 2021
Cause of Death Age-adjusted Rate
2020 2021
Rate % Change Rate % Change
Heart Disease 195.0 206.0 5.6 209.5 7.4
COVID-19 86.5 106.9
Diabetes-related  66.0 88.8 34.5 91.9 39.2
Unintentional Injuries 51.8 56.2 8.5 61.8 19.3
Stroke 39.5 44.8 13.4 46.1 16.7
Alzheimer's Disease 34.3 37.0 7.9 34.4 0.3
Diabetes Mellitus 22.1 26.3 19.0 26.7 20.8
Pneumonia/Influenza 13.8 14.4 4.3 10.4 -24.6
Intentional Self-harm (Suicide) 14.3 13.8 -3.5 14.3 -
Homicide 6.3 8.6 36.5 8.7 38.1


Community Level Data: COVID-19 is a leading cause of death for 2021, and so the coronavirus mortality statistics are also integrated into the leading causes of death tables throughout the division's website. In particular, COVID-19 data can be found in the community level Mortality Characteristics by Race website.

Questions regarding COVID-19 Death Statistics should be directed to:

Lindsey Myers
Division for Vital Records & Health Statistics
Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
333 S. Grand Ave.
Lansing, MI 48933

E-mail: [email protected]


1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Vital Statistics System: Guidance for Certifying COVID-19 Deaths 2020. (accessed 4/20/2020 2020).

2Source Neighborhood Atlas - Home ( Kind AJH, Buckingham W. Making Neighborhood Disadvantage Metrics Accessible: The Neighborhood AtlasNew England Journal of Medicine, 2018. 378: 2456-2458. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1802313. PMCID: PMC6051533. AND University of Wisconsin School of Medicine Public Health. 2015 Area Deprivation Index v2.0. Downloaded from November 4, 2021.