U.S. Death Rate Soared To A Grim Number In 2020

The life expectancy in the United States fell by nearly two years in 2020 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its finalized data on 2020 death rates which confirmed life expectancy dropped from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77 years in 2020, the largest one-year life expectancy drop since World War II, NBC News reports.

“We normally don’t see declines of life expectancy of this magnitude,” said Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, via NBC News. “Usually when we see fluctuations in life expectancy, it’s only for a couple months of the year, so this is quite significant.”

Additionally, the average life expectancy for males in the U.S. dropped from 76.3 in 2019 to 74.2 in 2020 (2.1 years), while the average for woman fell from 81.4 in 2019 to 79.9 in 2020 (1.5 years).

The data also showed the average age-adjusted death rate rose by about 17%, with 715.2 deaths per 100,000 individuals reported in 2019 and 835.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2020.

Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, also noted “racial disparities” among the data, with the increase for Black and Hispanic Americans far exceeding all other groups.

Death rates increased by nearly 43% among Hispanic males and greater than 32% among Hispanic females.

Death rates in Black males increased by 28% and death rates among Black females rose by nearly 25%.

Death rates among White males increased by about 13 % and 12% among White females in 2020.

“That just shouldn’t be happening,” Woolf said via NBC News. “There is this deeply embedded health consequence of systemic racism.”

Nine of the 10 typical leading causes of death in the U.S. remained the same, with COVID following heart disease and cancer for the third most common casualty, followed by unintentional injuries (including drug overdoses), stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, influenza and pneumonia and kidney disease.

Heart disease, unintentional injury and diabetes related deaths saw the largest increases among causes of deaths previously included in the list.

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