COVID pandemic contributes to US life expectancy drop of 1.5 years in 2020

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The U.S. saw the largest one-year decline in life expectancy since World War II in 2020, plunging a year and a half.

Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks saw the largest decline, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Life expectancy for Hispanics from 2019 to 2020 dropped 3 years.

For non-Hispanic Blacks, it declined 2.9 years. And for non-Hispanic whites, it dropped 1.2 years.

Although covid-19 was the primary factor, others causes were unintentional injuries, homicide, diabetes and chronic liver disease. Unintentional injuries include drug overdoses.

Esther Sciammarella, the director of the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition, said she wasn't surprised by the data.

The nonprofit has been working to tackle vaccine hesitancy.

"I think this is a message for everybody to get involved and take it serious because this will devastate our communities," Sciammarella said.

U.S. life expectancy at birth for 2020 was 77.3 years overall. For males it was 74.5 years and females 80.2 years.

Some health officials said they are concerned about the trend continuing due to people who have put off getting treatment for chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, during the pandemic.

"We are now seeing the effects of that delayed care. So we are now seeing excess mortality from our leading causes of death, people who are coming in now to get care are sicker and less well able to be treated," said Mercedes Carnethon, a professor of preventive medicine and medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
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