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COVID-19 pandemic greatly contributed to a year and half decrease in life expectancy, new CDC report finds

  • Life expectancy in the US fell from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 years in 2020, the CDC reported
  • Almost 75% of the decline could be attributed to COVID-19 deaths. 
  • Hispanic Americans saw the most drastic decline in life expectancy compared to other ethnicities. 

Life expectancy in the US fell by a year and a half in 2020, mostly a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

In 2019, life expectancy was 78.8 years but in 2020 it was 77.3 years, the lowest since 2003. 

The report said the drop in life expectancy was mainly due to deaths from COVID-19. Coronavirus deaths were responsible for 73.8% of the decline. 

In 2020 men had a life expectancy of 74.5 years compared to 76.3 in 2019. For women, life expectancy in 2020 was 80.2 down from 81.4 in 2019. 

“The difference in life expectancy between the sexes was 5.7 years in 2020, increasing from 5.1 in 2019,” the report said. 

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 600,000 deaths from the virus have been recorded altogether, nearly two-thirds of them recorded in 2020, CDC data shows.

Hispanic Americans had the most drastic drop in life expectancy compared to any other ethnicity, decreasing from 81.8 years in 2019 to 78.8 years in 2020, a three-year drop. For Hispanic males, that drop was from 79.0 years in 2019 to 75.3 years in 2020, a drop of 3.7 years. Black men had a decline of 3.3 years and non-Hispanic black females had a decline of 2.4 years. 

“Among the causes contributing negatively to the change in life expectancy, COVID-19 contributed 90% for the Hispanic population, 67.9% for the non-Hispanic white population, and 59.3% for the non-Hispanic black population,” the report said. 

Hispanic and Black Americans have been especially hit hard by the pandemic, with several studies and reports finding that Black and Hispanic Americans have a higher risk of getting sick and dying from the coronavirus. 

Other causes in the decline included: unintentional injuries, homicide,

diabetes
, and chronic liver disease. 

The report was based on provisional data from 2020 death and birth records which means some deaths and births that weren’t counted or recorded are not included. 

 

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