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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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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.

Go deeper

The stark racial gap in homeownership

Reproduced from the National Association of Realtors; Chart: Axios Visuals

The homeownership rate for Black families is nearly 30 percentage points lower than that for white families, according to a new data analysis by the National Association of Realtors, which examined trends between racial groups from 2009 to 2019.

Why it matters: The report comes as President Biden has signed an executive order on racial inequity, directing his administration to take steps toward eliminating "racial bias and other forms of discrimination in all stages of home-buying and renting."

1 hour ago - Science

COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.