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Life expectancy in the United States drops by a year in a pandemic, most since World War II

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Life expectancy in the United States fell a staggering year in the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, health officials report.

Minorities have suffered the greatest impact, with black Americans losing nearly three years and Hispanics losing nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is a huge decline, said Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC. You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.

Other health experts say it shows the profound impact of COVID-19, not only on deaths directly from infection, but also from heart disease, cancer and other conditions.

What is really striking about these numbers is that they only reflect the first half of the year … I would expect these numbers to only get worse, said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins- Domingo, health equity researcher and dean at the University. of California, San Francisco.

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This is the first time that the CDC has reported on life expectancy from early partial registrations; other death certificates from this period may still arrive. We already know that 2020 was the deadliest year in US history, with deaths exceeding 3 million for the first time.

Life expectancy is the average length of time a baby born today can expect to live. In the first half of last year, it was 77.8 years for all Americans, down one year from 78.8 in 2019. For men, it was 75.1 years and for women, 80.5 years.

As a group, Hispanics in the United States have had the most longevity and still do. Blacks now have a six-year lag in life expectancy over whites, reversing a trend that has brought them together since 1993.

Between 2019 and the first half of 2020, life expectancy declined 2.7 years for blacks, to 72. It declined 1.9 years for Hispanics, to 79.9, and 0.8 years for Hispanics. whites, at 78. The preliminary report did not analyze trends for Asians. or Native Americans.

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Black and Hispanic communities across the United States have suffered the brunt of this pandemic, Bibbins-Domingo said.

They are more likely to have low-paying frontline jobs and live in overcrowded environments where it is easier for the virus to spread, and there are serious pre-existing health disparities in other conditions that are increasing. their risk of dying from COVID-19, she said.

More needs to be done to equitably distribute vaccines, improve working conditions and better protect minorities from infection, and include them in economic relief measures, she said.

Dr Otis Brawley, cancer specialist and professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University, agreed.

The emphasis really needs to be widely broadcast to get adequate care for all Americans. And health care should be defined as both prevention and treatment, he said.

Overall, the decline in life expectancy is further evidence of our mismanagement of the pandemic, Brawley said.

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We have been devastated by the coronavirus more than any other country. We are 4% of the world’s population, over 20% of coronavirus deaths globally, he said.

Insufficient use of masks, early addiction to drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, which proved to be worthless, and other missteps caused many Americans to needlessly die, Brawley said.

Going forward, we need to put into practice the very basics such as hand washing, physical distancing and immunization as soon as possible to get prevention back on track, he said.

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Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter: @MMarchioneAP

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The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institutes Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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