Public health officials said El Paso recorded its 500th death due to COVID-19 on Wednesday. That would make the novel coronavirus the second or third leading cause of death for El Pasoans, based on prior trends.

The El Paso COVID-19 deaths have all occurred since April, or in less than six months. Only heart disease and cancer kill more than 500 El Pasoans in a typical year.

The most recent cause of death data for El Paso from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is from 2018. Here’s how El Paso’s COVID-19 deaths would compare to other causes for that year.

The 500 COVID-19 deaths reported between April and this week project to just over 1,000 deaths on an annualized basis. That would surpass cancer as the second-leading cause of death in El Paso and approach heart disease as the leading killer.

It takes three years for diabetes to kill 1,000 El Pasoans. Strokes and other cerebrovascular disease kill 1,000 El Pasoans every four years.

El Paso had 5,604 deaths in 2018, according to CDC data. Multiple causes are often associated with each death.

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy...

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