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Life expectancy in the United States fell by a year and a half in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says the coronavirus is largely to blame.
COVID-19 contributed to 74% of the decline in life expectancy from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 years in 2020, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
This was the largest year-over-year decline since World War II, when life expectancy fell 2.9 years between 1942 and 1943. Hispanic and black communities experienced the largest declines.
For African Americans, life expectancy has dropped by 2.9 years, from 74.7 years in 2019 to 71.8 years in 2020.
American Hispanics – who have a longer life expectancy than blacks or non-Hispanic whites saw the biggest drop in life expectancy during the pandemic, from 3 years from 81.8 years in 2019 to 78.8 years years in 2020. Hispanic men experienced the largest decline, dropping 3.7 years. COVID-19 was responsible for 90% of the decline among Hispanics.
The increase in drug overdose deaths has also been a factor in decreasing life expectancy. More than 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020. This is the highest number reported in a single year. Other causes of death that contributed to the decline were the increase in homicides and deaths from diabetes and chronic liver disease.
Last month, a study published in the British medical journal examined life expectancy data for the United States and compared it to life expectancy data for 16 other high-income countries. The study found that the decrease in life expectancy in the United States from 2018 to 2020 was 8.5 times greater than the average decrease in peer countries. And the declines in the United States have been most pronounced among minority groups, particularly blacks and Hispanics.
Study author Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine told NPR’s Allison Aubrey: “We haven’t seen such a decrease since World War II. It’s a horrible decrease. of life expectancy. “
“It is impossible to look at these results and not to see the reflection of systemic racism in the United States,” Lesley Curtis, chair of the department of population health sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, told NPR.
“The range of factors that come into play include income inequality, the social safety net, as well as racial inequality and access to health care,” Curtis said.