(KTLA/KRON) — COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in a press release Friday.

The information was released amid a pair of reports in the national public health agency’s MMRW (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report), which listed COVID-19 behind only heart disease and cancer for the second year.

One of the reports also found that death rates were highest among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native and non-Hispanic Black or African American people.

The second report showed that from 2020 to 2021, the differences in COVID-19 death rates decreased among the majority of racial and ethnic groups.

The report also stated that non-Hispanic White people accounted for 60% to 65% of all people who died in the U.S.

The information shows a “need for greater effort to implement effective interventions,” the CDC stated.

“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 stated in its report.

The CDC’s announcement comes the same week COVID-19 restrictions were further eased in the Bay Area. On Wednesday, a number of public transportation agencies dropped their mask requirements for riders, including those at Oakland airport.

Some of these agencies cited guidance from California Department of Public Health and the other federal agencies to make their decision. However, on the same day, the Justice Department filed an appeal to overturn a judge’s order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and travel hubs.

Muni, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, SamTrans, and AC Transit are among the agencies who stopped requiring masks. County Connection, a bus service in Contra Costa County, did not announce dropping their mask requirement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.