News Flash

Health Department - Spotlight on Health

Posted on: January 9, 2024

COVID-19 Mortality Report details lives lost and impact of local efforts to protect our community

Photo of candles with text that says "COVID-19 mortality report, March 2020 through February 2023

Español: COVID-19 Informe de mortalidad: 2020-2023

Washtenaw County Health Department released COVID-19 Mortality Report on the first three years of the pandemic (March 1, 2020 - Feb 25, 2023). While the loss of local lives was significant at 642 during this time, death rates across Michigan were much higher. Together, we saved lives. 

In Washtenaw County, Health Department staff, health care workers, community partners, and volunteers worked countless hours to respond to the pandemic– and community members listened to guidance to protect themselves and others. There were ongoing challenges and significant resource limitations, but our collective actions mattered and reduced deaths and disease in our community. 

“We continue to mourn the hundreds of lives lost in our community due to COVID,” says Jimena Loveluck, MSW, health officer with Washtenaw County Health Department. “But we are also incredibly grateful. Our work to respond together saved lives.”

“The thousands of hours, nights, and weekends staff spent providing information and guidance, coordinating testing, contact tracing, and offering vaccination mattered. And – for all of us – adhering to public health guidance mattered. It made a difference,” continues Loveluck.

The Mortality Report reviews deaths due to COVID-19 by age and other demographics, including race. Information on deaths occurring among residents in long-term care settings and the projected number of deaths (631 additional deaths) if Washtenaw County had the same death rate as Michigan did on average are also presented. The impact of the multiple waves of illness and the availability of vaccination over these three years is evident. 

“The life-saving impact of vaccination is clear, for example, when you look at the deaths that were occurring in long-term care settings in late 2020 to early 2021,” says Laura Bauman, MPH, epidemiology program manager. “When vaccination became available, these deaths dropped dramatically, and the impact of subsequent waves of illness was less severe.”

At the same time, COVID-19 hit communities of color harder, especially earlier in the pandemic. “As a community, we worked to get resources where they were most needed as quickly as possible. Working alongside our community partners and leaders has been critical and has helped us bring reliable information, testing, vaccines, and masks or other resources to homes, neighborhoods, and trusted community locations,” says Loveluck.

The COVID-19 mortality rate among Black/African Americans living in Washtenaw dropped from 9.5 per 10,000 in 2020 to 6.3 in 2022. The 2022 COVID death rate is 6.3 for both Black/African Americans and whites in Washtenaw County.  

As a community, we lost a lot to COVID-19. Hundreds of lives were lost, and many more were impacted by serious illness, isolation, and other hardships. Still, we are grateful for the lives saved and the hundreds that we were able to protect – together. 

Thank you to our entire community for your commitment to protecting public health and to working together. We are grateful.

Additional COVID-19 information

Facebook Twitter Email