COVID-19 is responsible for much of the decline in life expectancy, with Hispanic and Black communities disproportionately affected

By Abigail Adams
July 21, 2021 01:22 PM
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Life expectancy in the United States plummeted in 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.

Deaths from COVID-19 and drug overdoses in 2020 contributed to the 1.5-year dip, bringing U.S. life expectancy to 77.3 years. It is the largest one-year drop since World War II.

"What happened in the U.S. did not occur in other comparable countries despite Covid-19 being a global pandemic," said Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, according to NBC News.

The pandemic caused 75 percent of the reduction in life expectancy on average, with Hispanic and Black Americans being disproportionately affected.

Hispanic Americans saw the largest drop in life expectancy — a decrease of 3 years to 78.8 years — with 90 percent of the drop caused by COVID.

Life expectancy for Black Americans fell 2.9 years to 71.8 years, the lowest since 2000. COVID-19 was responsible for almost 60 percent of that decrease.

White Americans' life expectancy fell 1.2 years to 77.6 years, with COVID causing 68 percent of the decrease.

Researchers also reported an increase in death from accidents, which fueled 11 percent of the decline in life expectancy. One-third of those accidents are attributed to drug overdoses.

"We were already seeing a worrying trend before the pandemic and were predicting that the stress and depression brought on by job loss, housing insecurity and the pandemic itself would exacerbate issues with drug addiction. This report shows that it did," Woolf said to NBC News.

As of Wednesday, more than 609,000 people have died in the U.S. from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 161,000 have been fully vaccinated.