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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 - Technology
Column / Tech Agenda

The new digital extortion

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

If you run a hospital, a bank, a utility or a city, chances are you'll be hit with a ransomware attack. Given the choice between losing your precious data or paying up, chances are you'll pay.

Why it matters: Paying the hackers is the clear short-term answer for most organizations hit with these devastating attacks, but it's a long-term societal disaster, encouraging hackers to continue their lucrative extortion schemes.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC mask guidance sparks confusion, questions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The CDC's surprise guidance last week freeing the fully vaccinated to go maskless sowed plenty of concerns across the country— even earning the "Saturday Night Live" treatment for all the questions it spurred.

Why it matters: With plenty of Americans still unvaccinated — and without any good way to confirm who has been vaccinated — some experts worry this could put many at increased risk.