A spike: Perhaps the most noticeable feature of both graphs is the Covid-19 spike — the rapid growth in deaths since the pandemic began. Car crashes, by contrast, show little variation week to week. And even compared to past flu seasons or pandemics, the rate of increase in Covid-19 deaths is markedly faster.

The number of new deaths reported in the U.S. in the week beginning March 16 was 678 percent higher than the previous week. In New York State, the number grew thirty-six-fold the same week. By comparison, the worst one-week increase during the 2017-18 flu season was 24 percent, and during the 1957-58 Asian flu was 48 percent. Although the growth in Covid-19 deaths is now slowing, the number of new deaths last week was still more than double that of the week before.*

A leading cause of death in the United States: Several weeks ago, coronavirus deaths were few in comparison with other causes. But last week, reported U.S. Covid-19 deaths were just shy of the normal rate from heart disease, usually the leading cause of death.