Age Analysis

Massachusetts Covid Breakdown by Age Part IV: Death Analysis

This is the fourth in the series of posts analyzing Covid by age group in Massachusetts – and particularly grim, as it focuses on deaths and death rates. As expected, death statistics provide the sharpest delineation of how Covid is affecting different age groups, with a far higher death rate among seniors, particularly those 80 and over. The data for this post have been updated to October 10 to incorporate the latest weekly report released by the state.

Figure 1 shows the sharp decline in death rates for those 80 and over from the end of May through the beginning of August, with weekly death rates leveling off at about 20 per 100,000. (At its peak at the end of
April, the death rate for people 80 and up was more than 10 times this level). There is a similar but less pronounced decline for seniors between 60 and 79. Death rates for the 40 to 59 age group fell also, but are sufficiently small that the decline doesn’t show in the figure. Death rates for those under 40 are very small.

Figure 2 shows that the overwhelming majority of deaths are for people 60 and older – over the course of the pandemic, almost 95% of deaths in Massachusetts have been in this age group. Slightly under 5% of deaths have been for people aged 40 to 59, and about one-half of one percent of deaths have been for those under 40. The see-saw pattern of deaths in the figure, especially noticeable in the over 80 and the 40 to 59 cohorts since August, is likely an artifact of my methodology for processing the inadequate information provided weekly by the state.

Figure 3, which shows the death to population ratio for the age cohorts, most starkly points how those 80 plus have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Slightly more than 4% of the state population is in this group, but it accounts for over 60% of deaths. Seniors from 60 to 79 are also dying at a disproportionately high rate, but much less so than those 80 and over.

2 replies on “Massachusetts Covid Breakdown by Age Part IV: Death Analysis”

Since the positivity and hospitalization rates are going in the wrong direction, I would like to know why (or read some reasonable speculation) as to why the stoplights are still green. I would think they need to go back to yellow for now.

I think it is a function of how the state has defined the stoplights.

The covid positive test rate probably wouldn’t trigger yellow until we hit a minimum of 5% positive, we are at 4% now. And given that the state changed to focusing on test positivity rather than individual positivity, it is unclear what definition they are using here. I think the test positivity rate is highly misleading, especially in a state where over half the testing is done by higher educational institutions testing the same people over and over.

For the hospitalized patients stoplight, the state clearly thinks 500 patients compared to 300 patients isn’t an issue. I have no idea. Let’s see what happens if the number of hospitalized patients approaches 1000.

The testing capacity stoplight is probably accurate, as we are testing 65,000 people per day. Even if half of those are from colleges and universities and repeat testing, that is a very large increase since the beginning of July when we were conducting 12,000 tests per day, and about 9,000 new individuals per day.

I can’t comment at all about contact tracing, as that seems to have fallen out of the news.

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