Life expectancy in U.S. plummets by one year amid pandemic, biggest drop since WWII
Life expectancy in the United States plummeted by an entire year in the first half of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the biggest decline since World War II, said a study on Thursday.
Preliminary data from January through June 2020 showed life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population fell from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.8 years, the lowest since 2006, according to the study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.
People take pictures of house decorations during Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, Louisiana, the United States, on Feb. 14, 2021. (Photo by Lan Wei/Xinhua)
"This is a huge decline," said Robert Anderson, who oversees the data for the CDC. "You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this."
Life expectancy for African American populations dropped the most from 2019, by 2.7 years to 72 years, hitting a new low since 2001. Latinos experienced the second-biggest decline, falling 1.9 years since 2019 to a life expectancy of 79.9 years, lower than when it was first recorded in 2006.
Black Americans are hospitalized with COVID-19 at 2.9 times the rate of white Americans and die at 1.9 times the rate, according to a USA Today report citing CDC data. Latinos are hospitalized at more than three times the rate and die more than twice the rate of white Americans.
"It was disturbing to see that gains that have been made for the Black community and decreasing the gap between life expectancy for African Americans and (white) Americans over the past six years had come to a halt," said Dr. Leon McDougle, president of the National Medical Association.
Life expectancy in the United States decreased by 0.3 years from 2014 to 2017 and slightly increased 2018 through 2019 by 0.2 years, according to CDC data.
Life expectancy is how long a baby born today can expect to live, on average, if death rates remain the same.