HARTFORD, CT – The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released preliminary, partial “excess mortality” data Tuesday showing that more than twice as many people died in April and May in Connecticut this year than in the previous year.

The data that Dr. James Gill released, which includes only about two-thirds of the deaths in Connecticut, is described by Gill as an “indirect measure of excess mortality.”

The information was first requested by CTNewsJunkie on April 28 and was also requested by a number of other news media to verify the extent of the impact of COVID-19. Shortly after the start of the pandemic, partisans and other critics of the state’s mitigation efforts began suggesting that the virus wasn’t really increasing the general mortality rate. Some individuals even suggested that the virus was a hoax, driven by a partisan agenda.

In order to determine excess mortality, one needs to look at all deaths over a given period. However, about a third of the deaths in Connecticut are not tracked by the Medical Examiner’s office. Only the Department of Public Health has access to all of the data related to deaths in Connecticut, and the department did not provide additional information Tuesday.

However, the data that Gill released showed a 137% increase in deaths in April and an 87% increase in deaths in May. Already the overall deaths reported by Gill’s office for the first five months of the year are 4,388 higher than 2019’s total for the same period. The ME’s data tracked 8,050 deaths in Connecticut in April and May, up from 3,782 the previous year.

“These numbers show marked increases in April and May corresponding to the increases in COVID-19 deaths,” Gill said. “As the number of COVID-19 deaths started to decline from April to May, the number of reported deaths also declined.”

Josh Geballe, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief operating officer, said that over the course of January, February, and March the number of deaths this year compared to last year was very similar — and then in April, the number of deaths skyrocketed 137% over the previous April.

“The vast majority of the increases were reflected in the COVID deaths,” Geballe said.

However, Geballe said that didn’t account for all of it.

There were still about 200 deaths between April and May that were higher from prior years and not attributed to COVID. Geballe said the public health and medical professionals believe the increase can be “attributed to potentially some COVID cases that are not identified, although we do everything we can to identify all of them, but probably more likely that has to do with people avoiding care, avoiding our hospitals for critical medical procedures.”

Geballe said it’s a reminder that those who need acute care should go to the hospital and see their doctors.

Many people have delayed other medical care as a result of the pandemic and several hospitals postponed procedures to free up resources in April and May.

Courtesy of the Chief Medical Examiner
Certified COVID cases through May 31, 2020 (Courtesy of the Chief Medical Examiner)