CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The number of deaths in Wyoming increased significantly in 2020 over the previous year and state authorities say COVID-19 was a key factor in the increase.

The Wyoming Department of Health documented 5,983 deaths last year, an increase of 862 deaths — or 16% — over 2019, the Casper Star-Tribune reported Saturday.

COVID was a clear driver of the increase and the virus was implicated in the deaths of 528 Wyoming residents last year, state health authorities said.

“Our data has shown steady, small increases in deaths for several years largely due to our state’s aging population,” said Guy Beaudoin, the Vital Statistics Services deputy state registrar with the health department. “But before the COVID-19 pandemic hit we never would have predicted the large jump we saw in 2020.”

COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death among the state’s residents after heart disease and cancer. Ranking fourth was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, followed by various types of accidents.