US life expectancy drops to lowest level in nearly two decades amid pandemic

Life expectancy in the United States in 2020 fell to its lowest level since nearly two decades ago, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention early data released on Wednesday.

U.S. life expectancy came in at 77.3 years for 2020, the lowest it's been since 2003. There was a drop of 1.5 years in life expectancy from 2019 to 2020, and the officials involved in the National Center for Health Statistics data said the drop was "primarily" due to COVID-19.

"Mortality due to COVID-19 had, by far, the single greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020, overall, among men and women, and for the three race and Hispanic-origin groups shown in this report," they wrote. "Among the other causes of death that negatively contributed to the change in life expectancy, unintentional injuries, homicide, and diabetes affected all three Hispanic origin and race groups."

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COVID-19 was "by far" the "single greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020, overall, among men and women," officials explained, noting that coronavirus deaths contributed to 73.8% of that decline.

They added that the decline in life expectancy would have been greater if not for the "offsetting" factors of decreases in mortality tied to cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and Alzheimer's disease.

For men, life expectancy was factored to be 74.5 years, a level that is also the lowest since 2003, and for women, their life expectancy was 81.8 years, the lowest for them since 2005.

The population demographic that has experienced the largest drop in life expectancy from 2019 to 2020 was Hispanics, which saw the average drop from 81.8 years to 78.8. The drop marks the lowest level since the CDC began calculating it for Hispanics in 2006. The non-Hispanic Black population experienced the second-largest drop in life span from 74.7 to 71.8, while non-Hispanic white people's life expectancy declined from 78.8 last year to 77.6.

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Last year was the deadliest year in the U.S. with the country topping 3 million deaths for the first time.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 34 million in the U.S. have contracted the virus, while more than 600,000 citizens have died of it, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker.

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