Updated Feb 18, 2021 - Health

American life expectancy fell by 1 year in the first half of 2020

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic drove life expectancy in the U.S. to its lowest level since 2006, according to new preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Racial disparities in life expectancy also widened in the first half of 2020. White Americans now live an average of six years longer than Black Americans, up from about a four-year difference in 2019.

By the numbers: Overall, American life expectancy was about 78 years in the first half of 2020. In 2019, it was roughly 79 years.

  • Men can expect to live an average of 75 years, compared to 81 years for women. Both lost about a year off of their life expectancy in the first months of the pandemic.

Yes, but: The preliminary data don't account for normal seasonal fluctuations in the death rate (more people tend to die in the winter), and issues with states' reporting of COVID-related deaths could also have skewed the early-2020 numbers, the CDC said.

Related: In a separate report, the CDC said yesterday that roughly 81,000 Americans died from drug overdoses between June 2019 and June 2020 — a 21% jump over the same period the year before.

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