(The Hill) — COVID-19 was the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2022, falling by one step after having been the third leading cause of death the preceding two years.

According to provisional mortality data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 was the leading cause of death last year behind heart disease, cancer and unintentional injury.

The overall death rate in the country fell by 5.3 percent between 2021 and 2022. The SARS-CoV-2 virus was reported as an underlying cause of or contributing factor to 244,986 deaths or 7.5 percent of U.S. deaths last year.

“COVID-19, the third leading cause of death in 2021, fell to fourth place in 2022 because of the large decrease in COVID-19–associated deaths compared with those in 2021,” according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“The number of deaths caused by unintentional injury, largely driven by a high number of drug overdose deaths, remained high in 2022 compared with 2021.”

As these findings are based on provisional data, rates may change in response to additional incoming data. The final data is typically released about 11 months after the end of the previous year.

The report noted that while deaths fell across nearly all demographics, rates still remained relatively high among Black Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives.