Timeliness of U.S. mortality data releases during the COVID-19 pandemic: delays are associated with electronic death registration system and elevated weekly mortality

Link: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.07.21249401v1.full.pdf



All-cause mortality counts allow public health authorities to identify populations experiencing excess deaths from pandemics, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Further, delays in mortality reporting may contribute to misinformation because death counts take weeks to
become accurate. We estimate the timeliness of all-cause mortality releases during the Covid-19 pandemic, and identify potential reasons for reporting delays, using 35 weeks of provisional mortality counts between April 3 and December 4, 2020 for 52 states/jurisdictions. On average, states’ mortality counts are delayed by 5.6 weeks (standard deviation 1.74), with a range of 8.8 weeks between the fastest state and the slowest state. States that hadn’t adopted the electronic death registration system were about 4 weeks slower, and 100 additional weekly deaths per million were associated with 0.4 weeks delays, but the residual standard deviation was 0.9 weeks, suggesting other sources of delay. Disaster planning should include improving the timeliness of mortality data.

Author(s): Janet Rosenbaum, Ph.D.1,* Marco Stillo, M.P.H., M.S.E.1, Nathaniel Graves, A.B., M.P.H.(c)1, Roberto Rivera, Ph.D.2

Publication Date: 8 January 2021

Publication Site: MedrXiv