The year COVID-19 swept through America produced a massive drop in life expectancy for Americans, with the average coming out to 77 years.
Life expectancy at birth fell 1.8 years from 2019 to 2020, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted was the “largest single-year decrease in more than 75 years.”
COVID-19 was listed as the underlying cause of death for 350,831 Americans in 2020, amounting to 10.4 percent of all deaths.
“From 2019 to 2020, the age-adjusted death rate for the total population increased 16.8%. This single-year increase is the largest since the first year that annual mortality data for the entire United States became available,” the CDC reported.
“We really haven’t really seen anything like this since the 1918 flu pandemic,” said Dr. Robert Anderson, chief of mortality statistics at the National Center for Health Statistics, according to NBC News.
Anderson said the 2021 numbers may not show a brighter picture.
“Mortality was a little higher in 2021 than in 2020, so we may see some additional declines,” he said.
Life expectancy varied greatly by state, according to a report from the CDC and NCHS released Tuesday.
Hawaii had the highest life expectancy at birth in 2020 at 80.7 years. Mississippi had the lowest at 71.9 years.
The report noted that “states with the lowest life expectancy at birth were mostly Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) but also included D.C., Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, and Oklahoma.”
States with the highest life expectancy were “predominantly Western (California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington) and Northeastern states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) but also included Colorado, Minnesota, and Utah.”
All states saw a decline in life expectancy in 2020.
Hawaii had the lowest decline at 0.2 years. The other states with the lowest declines in life expectancy were New Hampshire at 0.4 years, Maine at 0.5 years, and Washington state and Oregon each at 0.8 years.
In New York, which suffered thousands of nursing home deaths due to policies imposed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, life expectancy dropped three years.
The other states with the highest decreases in life expectancy were the District of Columbia at 2.7 years, Louisiana and New Jersey at 2.6 years, and Arizona at 2.5 years.
The report said that causes of death were generally stable from 2019 to 2020, with COVID-19 the third-leading cause of death.
The leading cause of death in 2020 was heart disease, just as it was in 2019, followed by cancer.
The other top causes of death in 2020 were unintentional injuries, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease. The report noted that drug overdoses made up a large share of unintentional injuries.
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