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Press Release

Cleveland Fed researcher finds COVID-19 mortality rates still increasing rapidly in US states, but less rapidly than before

The cumulative COVID-19 mortality rate of the United States doubled or more each week between the end of February and April 12, 2020, finds Cleveland Fed policy economist Joel Elvery. Although the pace of growth in most states slowed in the week leading up to April 12, mortality rates still doubled or more in 37 states. South Dakota had the highest daily percentage change during that week, followed by Pennsylvania.

In the Cleveland Fed’s District, the growth in mortality rates has continued to slow in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia, but not in Pennsylvania. Among Fourth District states, Pennsylvania had the highest and the fastest-growing COVID-19 mortality rate.

In comparison with other US states, Pennsylvania’s epidemic has been on a poor trajectory recently—the state had the second-highest daily percentage change of any state, and its mortality rate was higher than those in three-fourths of other states, Elvery finds. Kentucky and Ohio are near the middle of the distribution across states in both the level and growth of mortality rates, while West Virginia has the second-lowest mortality rate of any state.

Read more: A Speeding Rate Starts to Slow: COVID-19 Mortality Rates by State

In case you missed it: Getting to Accuracy: Measuring COVID-19 by Mortality Rates and Percentage Changes

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.455.4479