U.S. life expectancy fell by 1 whole year in first 6 months of pandemic

The drop from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.8 years in the 1st half of 2020 marks the biggest fall in longevity since World War II.

Life expectancy in the U.S. fell by a full year in the half of 2020, CDC data published Thursday shows.

Why it matters: The decline from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.8 years for January through June 2020 marks the biggest fall in longevity since World War II, underscoring the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. The drop is even larger for Black and Hispanic Americans, who’ve been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

By the numbers: Over 490,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins data.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics report found that in the first six months of 2020, life expectancy for non-Hispanic Black people fell by 2.7 years, from 74.7 to 72.
  • For Hispanic people there was a fall of 1.9 years, from 81.8 to 79.9, while for non-Hispanic white people there was a drop of 0.8 years, from 78.8 to 78.

Of note: The period the CDC measured came as deaths from COVID-19 began to surge.

  • Health scientist Elizabeth Arias, a co-author of the CDC report, told the Wall Street Journal it’s “very concerning when we see mortality increase to such a degree.”
  • “It gives you a clear picture of the magnitude of the effect of the COVID pandemic,” she added.

Read the report, via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper: How the winter surge changed COVID disparities

Rebecca Falconer

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