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Verify: Have flu deaths outnumbered COVID-19 deaths so far this year?

We took a look at the numbers nationally, in Missouri and in Illinois

ST. LOUIS — A 5 On Your Side viewer asked our Verify team “Have flu deaths so far this year outnumbered coronavirus deaths?”

To get an answer to that question, we checked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Health and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The CDC monitors flu deaths. The most up-to-date data shows flu activity from the first week of January to March 21, 2020. In that time period, 5,540 people died in the U.S. from the flu. In contrast, the CDC reported 12,064 people in our country have died from COVID-19 so far this year.

Therefore, on a national scale, flu deaths do not outnumber COVID-19 deaths so far in 2020.

The 5 On Your Side Verify team also researched local numbers.


The CDC reported 122 deaths from the flu from January to March 21, 2020.

As of April 6, the Illinois Department of Health reported 380 deaths from COVID-19.

So, in the state of Illinois, COVID-19 deaths outnumber flu deaths in 2020.


The CDC reported 136 deaths from the flu from January to March 21, 2020.

The Missouri Department of Health reported 53 COVID-19 deaths as of April 6.

In the state of Missouri, flu deaths do outnumber COVID-19 deaths so far in 2020.

RELATED: Here's when COVID-19 could peak in Missouri and Illinois

But, it’s only April.

The gap between these two viruses is predicted to grow exponentially.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, showed models last week that COVID-19 could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 people in the U.S. if Americans stay at home and limit their contact with others.

Dr. Birx said if Americans do not follow social distancing measures, the model predicts between 1.5 and 2.2 million U.S. deaths from COVID-19.

READ MORE: White House projects 100K to 240K coronavirus deaths if social distancing is maintained

In contrast, the CDC said the flu kills between 12,000 and 61,000 people every year. So, if Dr. Birx's modeling is right, later in 2020, deaths from COVID-19 will far surpass the flu.

Do you have something you'd like us to Verify? Let us know. You can contact the 5 On Your Side Verify team through Facebook, on Twitter or by sending an email to verify@ksdk.com.

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