US life expectancy drops a year in pandemic, most since WWII

US life expectancy drops a year in pandemic, most since WWII
US counts most death from Covid-19. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: Life expectancy in the US dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the Covid pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, health officials are reporting.

Minorities suffered the biggest impact of the pandemic, with Black Americans losing nearly three years of life expectancy and Hispanics nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC, said: “This is a huge decline. You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.”

Other health experts say it shows the profound impact of coronavirus, not just on deaths directly due to infection but also from heart disease, cancer and other conditions.

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a health equity researcher and dean at the University of California, San Francisco, said: “What is really quite striking in these numbers is that they only reflect the first half of the year … I would expect that these numbers would only get worse.”

This is the first time the CDC has reported on life expectancy from early, partial records; more death certificates from that period may yet come in. It’s already known that 2020 was the deadliest year in US history, with deaths topping 3 million for the first time.

Life expectancy is how long a baby born today can expect to live, on average. In the first half of last year, life expectancy was 77.8 years for Americans overall, down one year from 78.8 in 2019. For males it was 75.1 years and for females, 80.5 years.

As a group, Hispanics in the United States have had the most longevity and still do. Black people now lag white people by six years in life expectancy, reversing a trend that had been bringing their numbers closer since 1993.

Between 2019 and the first half of 2020, life expectancy decreased to 79.9, and 0.8 years for white people, to 78 and 2.7 years for Black people, to 72. It dropped 1.9 years for Hispanics.

The preliminary report did not analyze trends for Native or Asian Americans.

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