In These 19 States, More People Died of COVID in 2021 Than in 2020

With nearly three months remaining in 2021, 19 states have reported a higher number of COVID-19 deaths than in 2020, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The states that have reported a higher number of deaths vary in size, geography and political leaning. Many relatively small, highly vaccinated states have reported a low number of deaths in both 2020 and 2021.

Maine has seen the highest percent increase at 33 percent, according to the CDC data. In 2021, it reported 697 deaths, up from 465 in 2020. Deaths peaked in the state in January, when 245 were reported. They continued to drop until August. In September, deaths again climbed to 115.

Florida has also reported a relatively high increase in deaths, according to the CDC. In 2020, 21,828 people died in Florida. That number grew to 31,992 so far in 2021. Florida has been at the center of the debate over how lawmakers should handle the virus, especially regarding mask mandates in school. Deaths peaked in August, when 10,128 people died from the virus—by far the state's deadliest month since the pandemic began.

Maine and Florida also top the list of the states with the oldest population, who are typically more vulnerable to COVID-19 than younger people. West Virginia and Vermont, which have reported a higher number of deaths, rank third and forth.

Some states with an increase in COVID deaths have low vaccination rates.

West Virginia, which has reported the lowest vaccination rate in the United States, has seen a 20 percent increase in COVID-19 deaths—from 1,560 in 2020 to 1,963 in 2021.

Several other states where less than half the population is fully vaccinated have seen an increase COVID deaths, including Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas. Cases in these states peaked in the early months of the year, but have grown significantly since August, when the Delta variant became the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S.

On the other hand, Vermont, which has the highest vaccine rate, has reported a slightly higher number of COVID deaths—149 in 2021, compared with 145 in 2020. As in Maine, most of the deaths were reported at the beginning of the year when the COVID-19 vaccine was not widely available to most Americans.

Hawaii, also a small, highly vaccinated state, has seen an increase in COVID deaths, though deaths peaked in August. Amid the surge in cases, experts have called for increased testing among tourists, according to USA Today.

Other states that have reported more COVID deaths in 2021 include Washington, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Kentucky, Nevada, California, Oregon, Tennessee and Alaska, according to the CDC data.

Both North Dakota and South Dakota—both hit hard by the pandemic in 2020—have reported a significantly lower number of COVID deaths in 2021, with a 362 and 263 percent drop, respectively.

New York City has also seen a large decrease in the number of COVID deaths. In 2020, when the city made headlines for being a hotspot, it reported 22,284 deaths. That number is 7,881 to date in 2021.

Nationwide, COVID deaths have decreased, as 312,946 have been reported so far in 2021, compared with 385,267. Public health experts say the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to avoid infection and death; even vaccinated people who contract the virus usually report more mild symptoms.

According to the CDC, only 5,226 vaccinated people have died from the virus.

COVID-19 Nurse
So far in 2021, 19 states have reported a higher number of COVID-19 deaths than in 2020. Here, a nurse is seen in Maryland in March 2020. Win McNamee/Getty Images