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American life expectancy falls as COVID-19 deaths top 500,000

The CDC reports that American life expectancy has dropped a full year in the first six months of 2020.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that American life expectancy dropped by a full year over the first six months of 2020 due to the COVID-19 death toll. It is expected to drop even more when the CDC calculates the data for the past six months.

“We’ve had a lot of deaths added since August, so I think a drop of two to three years for 2020 isn’t out of the question,” said Robert Anderson, the head of the mortality statistics branch of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

American life expectancy fell by one year on average during the first half of 2020, according to preliminary CDC data.

Average life expectancy has dropped from 78.8 years to 77.8 years. This is already the most dramatic drop in life expectancy the nation has seen since World War II. Black Americans were hit even harder, with a drop in life expectancy of 2.7 years. Hispanic life expectancy dropped 1.9 years.

“What is really quite striking in these numbers is that they only reflect the first half of the year,” Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist and dean at the University of California, told Politico. “I would expect that these numbers would only get worse.”

As death certificates are still reporting in and being reviewed, it is much too early to calculate the death statistics for 2020. American life expectancy growth had already been stunted by the boom in drug overdose deaths.

According to preliminary data from Worldometer, U.S. COVID-19 deaths have reached 505,309. Over 28 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in just 13 months.

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According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, 9,424 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 and the ADPH is continuing to review death records for COVID-19 deaths. At least 1,003 Alabamians are currently hospitalized battling COVID-19. That is down dramatically from January when hospitalizations peaked at 3,084 on Jan. 11. This is the lowest level since Nov. 1.

Globally there have been 110,930,558 diagnosed cases, but the real number is likely much higher because many cases go undiagnosed and some people can contract the virus while showing few if any symptoms. More than 2,454,521 people globally have died. One out of five has been an American.

The COVID-19 vaccine offers some hope of getting the pandemic under control, but it will still take months to get enough COVID-19 vaccines available to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated. Many public health officials worry that people opposed to vaccinations will spread enough fear that large segments of the population will refuse the vaccines.

Alabama remains under a safer-at-home order through March 5. Everyone is required to wear a mask or cloth face-covering in public places and whenever they are with persons not from their household. Social distancing is being encouraged by public health officials as well as frequent hand washing.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.



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