KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention examined the U.S. death rates for the year of 2021. COVID-19 was reported as the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.

Reports showed overall death rates were highest among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Natives and non-Hispanic Black or African American citizens. According to the CDC’s study, the overall age-adjustment death rate increased by nearly 1% from 2020 to 2021.

Differences in COVID-19 death rates decreased among most racial and ethnic groups according to a second report. The study showed decreases in death rates by 14-40% in most ethnic groups including non-Hispanic White people. This demographic accounted for 60-65% of people who died. Death rates increased 7.2% for non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders.

“We must work to ensure equal treatment in all communities in proportion to their need for effective interventions that can prevent excess COVID-19 deaths,” the CDC said in a press release.