According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, life expectancy
in the United States
will fall by a year and a half in 2020, owing primarily to an increase in deaths
linked to the COVID-19 pandemic
While the figures must be finalized by the CDC
, the decline would be the largest in a single year since World War II
and reflects the long toll the pandemic will take on the country even after the country reopens.
According to the report, “Mortality due to COVID-19 had by far the single greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020.”
The 1.5-year drop is an average for the country, but several demographic groups saw larger drops: Hispanic Americans lost three years, Black
Americans lost 2.9 years, and white Americans lost 1.2 years.
According to the report, injuries, homicide
, and diabetes
are some of the other factors contributing to the drop in life expectancy in 2020.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Arias, a CDC researcher who worked on the report, the decline effectively meant that the country had lost a decade of progress in life expectancy.
“Life expectancy has been gradually increasing every year for several decades,” Arias told Reuters
, “but the drop between 2019 and 2020 was so large that it took us back to 2003 levels, sort of like we lost a decade.”
In February, Arias emphasized that preliminary data showed the coronavirus
's disproportionate impact
on communities of color, and the CDC has stated that many racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to become ill and die as a result of COVID-19.
And the pandemic is far from over; cases are increasing in every state, owing primarily to the delta variant
of the virus, a highly transmissible strain that now accounts for 83% of new cases in the United States; however, nearly every death in the country occurs among the unvaccinated.