‘It’s very mentally taxing’ | Lancaster County coroner notices changing trends in COVID-19 deaths

It’s similar to what an NBC News analysis found. The latest COVID-19 deaths are more likely to be in younger, white, rural or southern people. LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — Five million people around the world have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic — millions of families that have been changed forever.

Early in the pandemic, large, crowded cities were hotspots, and older vulnerable people were more likely to die. But over time, there have been geographic and demographic changes in who is dying from the virus, and a new NBC News analysis of the first 100,000 COVID-19 deaths compared to the latest 100,000 deaths shows several trends.

The delta variant led to a destructive surge in COVID-19 cases . In just the last three months, more than 100,000 people in the United States died.

“Our morgue just simply was not big enough to hold the capacity that was coming in,” Lancaster County Coroner Karla Deese said.

She’s seen the devastating impacts of COVID-19 up close and personal.

“It’s very mentally taxing,” she said.

At the beginning of the year, they hit capacity and were struggling to keep up with COVID-19 deaths. She said they figured it would slow down a bit once the vaccines were widely available.

Then delta hit. Deese said they were slammed again, but noticed definite changes.

“We did see a lot of differences in it this year comparative to last year,” Deese said. “Last year was a lot of our elderly population and this year we saw our age groups drop down all the way into the 20s and teens.”

NBC News analysis mirrors those changes. It found the people dying now are largely younger, white, rural, and southern. COVID-19 hotspots are no longer in big cities, and delta hit harder in states with lower vaccination rates.

“The majority of the death that we have had this year, especially from spring until now, the majority of them have been unvaccinated,” Deese said.

She added that they are beginning to taper off as cases continue to go down.

Doctors say most people in the hospital are unvaccinated. Those who are vaccinated typically are older or have underlying conditions, underscoring the need for recently approved booster shots.

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