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U.S. Life Expectancy Drops From Pandemic

The average life expectancy for Americans fell in 2020 by an astounding year and a half, largely a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It was the largest decline since World War II.

The drop was seen across all ethnic groups, though it was steeper for Black and Hispanic Americans than for whites, CDC data show. Life expectancy fell 1.8 years for males, from 76.3 to 74.5, and declined from 81.4 years to 80.2 years for females.

The overall life expectancy in the United States in 2019 was 78.8. Last year, it went down to 77.3, a year and a half drop off, according to CDC statistics.

The life expectancy of white Americans dropped by over a year, hitting its lowest level since 2002. For white males it was age 74.5, lowest since 2003, and white females dropped to 80.2, a low not seen since 2005.

Black Americans saw a drop of 2.9 years in life expectancy, reaching its lowest level since 2000, while going down from 74.7 to 71.8.

Hispanic Americans suffered the worst among the three ethnic groups represented in the CDC study. This group saw their most significant decline since the CDC began recording Hispanic American life expectancy 15 years ago, shrinking by a total of 3 years from 81.8 down to 78.8.

COVID-19 was responsible for 68% of the drop-off among the white population, a 59% decline among blacks and a frightening 90% toll among Hispanics.

The effects of the pandemic were somewhat mitigated by the fact that over 80% of COVID-19 deaths were among aged 65 or greater.

Life expectancy is measured as the average length that a baby born in a given year is expected to live, so deaths, when they occur in younger people tend to have a more drastic statistical impact.

According to the CDC, more than 3.3 million Americans died in 2020, which was the most in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of all those deaths.

While the year and a half period since the pandemic has been so incredibly challenging, sometimes it is simple, yet important distractions of family, friends and art, music and literature that help us get through trying times.

Here is a selection of some of the songs of 2020 that helped add some positive spirit in those long days and nights. Thanks to PBS for offering up this musical mix.

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