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Report: COVID-19 was leading cause of death in KS in last third of 2020

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A new report looking at how COVID-19 impacted state death trends show that for the last third of 2020, COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in Kansas.

Last year, Kansas saw more than 31,000 deaths. That’s an additional 3,800 deaths compared to 2019, based on preliminary data released by the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit. That’s an increase of about 15 percent year over year, and most of those deaths are attributed to COVID-19.

Behind those numbers are stories of families who lost someone due to the virus. The family of Kevin Brown is dealing with the pain. Brown died last August after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

“(The) last four weeks, five weeks, I wasn’t allowed to see him,” Kevin Brown’s fiancé, Kimberly Moll, said of her fiancé being treated for COVID-19.

Moll’s son, Jordan Finch, said visitors weren’t allowed to visit Brown.

“We weren’t allowed in the hospital. Finch said. “We weren’t there for his last moments.

For Moll and Finch, it’s the little moments they treasured and what they ‘e missed the most over the last 10 months.

“He used to hid, and he’d come out and scare me and I miss that,” Moll said. “I miss waking up when he got home from work and talking.”

Those months have brought a lot of change. Moll said she’d moved in with her son Jordan and he is working three jobs to help make up for the loss of income and expenses.

The new data from the state gives a bigger picture of the toll of the virus

“More deaths in the last third of 2020 than in 2019 and COVIF-19 accounted for 78 percent of those additional deaths,” said Macie Smith with the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit

The report, out Tuesday from the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit, had a limited scope, but it does show the impact. The report focuses in on September to December 202 and looks at how that stretch compares to 2019.

In Kansas about 2,600 deaths were reeved in those months.

“Heart disease, cancerous tumors or strokes, you can see that the number of deaths due to those causes were generally similar for 2019 and 2020,” Smith said.

Behind each of the numbers, for family and friends, it’s about remembering a life.

“It’s a real thing and people’s lives are being affected by it every day,” Finch said. “This has been the hardest thing we’ve had to go through.”

In the September to December timeframe, there were 12,500 deaths in 2020 in Kansas. That’s more than 3,000, or 36 percent more deaths in that stretch than there were in 2019.

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