Life expectancy in the US dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, health officials are reporting, reports Our Foreign Staff.

Minorities suffered the biggest impact, with black Americans losing nearly three years and Hispanics, nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates on Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is a huge decline,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC.  “You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.”

Other health experts say it shows the profound impact of Covid-19, not just on deaths directly due to infection but also from heart disease, cancer and other conditions.

“What is really quite striking in these numbers is that they only reflect the first half of the year… I would expect that these numbers would only get worse,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a health equity researcher.

 It’s already known that 2020 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths topping 3 million for the first time.

Life expectancy is how long a baby born today can expect to live, on average. In the first half of last year, that was 77.8 years for Americans overall, down one year from 78.8 in 2019. For males it was 75.1 years and for females, 80.5 years.

Between 2019 and the first half of 2020, life expectancy decreased 2.7 years for Black people, to 72. It dropped 1.9 years for Hispanics, to 79.9, and 0.8 years for white people, to 78. 

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