November 2021 Release

The first Michigan resident COVID-19 death was reported on February 25, 2020, and by the end of the year, 11,362 residents had died of the virus. The number of male deaths was 6,191 and the number of female deaths was 5,171. The age-adjusted rate of coronavirus deaths was 86.5 per 100,000 persons in 2020. Male COVID-19 age-adjusted rates were about 61% higher than female rates. Men died at a rate of 109.8 per 100,000 males and women died at a rate of 68.1 per 100,000 females. (See Number and Rate of COVID-19 Deaths by Sex & Race, 2020.) In addition to causing 11,362 deaths outright, COVID-19 also contributed indirectly to 1,389 Michigander deaths who were already sick. Therefor, 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 12,751.

Figure 1 charts all COVID-19 deaths during 2020 and the first half of 2021. 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 in May 2021, with provisional estimates of deaths at 3,102.

Figure 1. Total, COVID-19 & Historical Three-year Average Deaths By Week,
Michigan Residents, January 1, 2020-July 3,2021

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. It should be noted that the Michigan Disease Surveillance System (MDSS) reported that 13,034 Michiganders died of COVID-19 in 2020 compared to the DVRHS report of 12,751, a difference in 283 deaths. This lower DVRHS count is mostly due to lack of a standard coding process in the early days of the pandemic.

Michigan Counties and Health Districts. The eastern part of the lower pensula and the western part of the upper pensula both suffered high mortality rates. (See Figure 2.) In the east, Wayne County's COVID-19 death rate was 145 deaths per 100,000; the mortality rate for Detroit City exclusively was 215. North of Wayne county and up to the Thumb, all counties except St. Clair (AAR 69) experienced death rates over 75 per 100,000. In particular, the coronavirus mortality rate for Macomb (AAR 121) and Tuscola (AAR 113.9) were very high, as was Saginaw's rate (AAR 116.9) to the west. The U.P. experienced lower numbers of deaths, but had severe mortality rates. The COVID-19 death rate was 99.5 per 100,000 for the Western Upper Peninsula District Health Department (a district comprising of  Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties), The death rate for Dickinson-Iron District Health Department was 124.1 deaths per 100,000. (See Number and rate of COVID-19 deaths by health district.)

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



Race, Sex and Age. Almost 70% of all the COVID-19 deaths reported were white deaths who died at a rate of 69.2 per 100,000 white population. Black deaths comprised over 26% of the reported coronavirus deaths and the mortality rate was 207.3 per 100,000 black population. The black mortality rate was about 200% higher than the white, the Asian & Pacific Islander and the Native American mortality rates. (See COVID-19 deaths and rates by race & sex.)

Figure 3. COVID-19 Age-adjusted Mortality Rates,
By Race or Hispanic Ancestry
Michigan Residents, 2020

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 38 per 100,000 and black men over age 84 died at a rate of 4,097 per 100,000. Hispanic men under age 55 died at a rate of about 22 per 100,000 and Hispanic males over 84 died at a rate of 2,610 per 100,000. (See COVID-19 Deaths and age-specific rates by race, sex & age..)

Area Deprivation Index. Area Depivation 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, 2020

Michigan COVID-19 Crude Rates by Area Deprivation Index.


Other Causes of Death. At an age-adjusted rate of 86.5 per 100,000, COVID-19 became the third leading cause of death, below heart disease (AAR 206.0) and cancer (AAR 158.8), but about 54% higher than deaths due to accidents (AAR 56.2). Certain causes of death were often listed as a secondary causes, commorbidities, or related causes of death to COVID-19. Pneumonia and flu were listed as a COVID-19 related causes of death 52% of the time; heart disease was listed about 30% 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—a 34.5% increase. (There were 2,885 more diabetes-related deaths than 2019.) Homicides increased by 35.5%, compared to the 2017-2019 average. Stroke deaths rose by 13.4%. 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%, though suicde 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
Michigan Residents, 2017-2019 and 2020
Cause of Death 2017-2019 2020 Percent Change
Heart Disease 195.0 206.0 5.6
COVID-19 86.5
Diabetes-related  66.0 88.8 34.5
Unintentional Injuries 51.8 56.2 8.5
Stroke 39.5 44.8 13.4
Alzheimer's Disease 34.3 37.0 7.9
Diabetes Mellitus 22.1 26.3 19.0
Pneumonia/Influenza 13.8 14.4 4.3
Intentional Self-harm (Suicide) 14.3 13.8 -3.5
Homicide 6.3 8.6 36.5


Community Level Data: COVID-19 is a leading cause of death for 2020, 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 and Mortality Characteristics by Poverty websites.

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



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.