Deaths outpaced births in Missouri; COVID-19 played a role

Associated Press
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — More people in Missouri died in 2020 than were born, a rarity that was due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A provisional report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said the "natural decrease" was the first for a complete year in 110 years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Thursday.

A natural increase or decrease in population is determined by subtracting the number of deaths from the number of live births. State data shows there were 4,555 more deaths than births in Missouri last year.

The report said deaths in December rose 50% over December 2019 "as the COVID pandemic peaked in mortality." All told, the state reported 73,831 deaths in 2020, up nearly 19% from the 62,155 deaths in 2019.

The coronavirus had other major impacts, according to the report. Marriages and divorces in Missouri last year fell to numbers not seen in more than 50 years as the pandemic scrambled wedding plans and forced families to stay home.

Marriages declined 6% -- the lowest number of marriages since 1959. Legal separations, annulments and divorces were down 7.5% -- the lowest count for dissolution of marriages since 1967.

The state health department on Thursday cited 385 newly confirmed cases of the virus, and three new deaths. The state has reported 504,454 confirmed cases and 8,821 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.