SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, the disease’s impact continues to be seen in mortality reports. 

The latest mortality report for 2021 in South Dakota, shows COVID-19 continues to be the third-leading cause of death in the state behind cancer and heart disease. The 2021 mortality report still contains provisional data and is only updated for 11 months (January through November). 

Through 11 months of 2021, there have been 8,263 total deaths in the state. For 12 months in 2020, South Dakota had 8,809 total deaths with cancer, heart disease and COVID-19 all surpassing 1,000 deaths. 

The mortality report, put together by the South Dakota Department of Health, also breaks down South Dakota resident death rates by month. The monthly death rate is calculated per 100,000 population.

You can see a breakdown of the monthly death rates in 2021 compared to 2020 and the monthly average from 1960 to 2021. 

In seven of the 11 months reported in 2021, South Dakota had higher than average death rates. September 2021’s death rate of 93.1 is the highest September death total ever recorded. 

In 2020, monthly death rates of October (107.6), November (160.3) and December (117.4) were the highest ever for each respective month. 

November 2020, which was also the deadliest month of the COVID-19 pandemic with 697 deaths, is the highest monthly death rate in the mortality report.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses estimates of excess deaths to provide information about “the burden of mortality potentially related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including deaths that are directly or indirectly attributed to COVID-19.” 

The CDC’s excess deaths uses weekly counts of deaths compared with historical trends to determine whether the number of deaths is significantly higher than expected. Using this comparison of all deaths with and without COVID-19 allows some insight on deaths occurring from other causes in the context of overburdened health care systems or from people not seeking care when needed. 

The weekly number of deaths from all causes in South Dakota tends to be above the upper bound threshold for excess deaths throughout the fall and winter months. 

In 2021, South Dakota exceeded the upper bound threshold for 16 weeks.