Quarterly Provisional Estimates for Selected Indicators of Mortality, 2018–Quarter 4, 2020
Provisional estimates are based on a snapshot of all the vital statistics data received and processed by NCHS as of a specified cutoff date. Provisional estimates closely match final data, but are subject to revision in future quarterly releases as additional records for that quarter are received. Additionally, around 5% of death records submitted to NCHS are initially received with the cause of death pending an investigation, most of which are deaths due to external causes such as unintentional injuries, suicides, homicides and drug overdose. As a result, provisional estimates for some external causes of death are not available for the most recent quarter or quarters to allow for these investigations, but will be available in future releases as updates are received and the reliability of the estimates improves (see Technical Notes for more details).
In this release of Quarterly Provisional Estimates, NCHS presents provisional estimates of death rates for the fourth quarter of 2020, by sex, age category, and state of residence. Reliable estimates for the most recent quarters may not be available for some causes of death. The estimates are based on all death records received and processed by NCHS as of April 11, 2021. Estimates are presented for 15 leading causes of death (1) plus estimates for deaths attributed to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), drug overdose, falls for persons aged 65 and over, firearm-related injuries, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, and homicide. Future quarterly releases may include additional causes of death.
For most causes of death included in this release, provisional estimates of crude and age-adjusted death rates are presented for the fourth quarter of 2020. Quarterly estimates for the fourth quarter of 2020 are compared with estimates for the corresponding quarter in 2019. Rates through the third quarter of 2020 are presented for falls for persons aged 65 and over, firearm-related injury, homicide, suicide and unintentional injury. Rates through the second quarter of 2020 are presented for drug overdose. Comments accompanying the estimates for each cause of death compare periods 1 year apart, to minimize seasonal influence. In addition, the death rates for a 12-month period ending with each quarter (i.e., 12-month moving average) are presented. Estimates for the 12-month period ending with the fourth quarter in each year can be interpreted as an annual provisional estimate for that year. Differences are reported only if statistically significant (p<0.05).