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COVID-19 cuts US lifespan the most since World War II

By Masao Suzuki

Oppressed nationalities hit more than twice as much as US whites

San José, CA – On Wednesday, July 20 the National Center for Health Statistics released their provisional report on lifespans in 2020. The report found that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 600,000 people in the United States, lowered the lifespan by one and half years in 2020. This is the worst drop since World War II. Lifespans have generally increased over time, but this sets the trend back almost 20 years to 2003.

The report also documented the impact of national oppression in the United States. Chicanos and Latinos had the greatest lifespan drop of three years, followed closely by African American lifespans, which fell 2.9 years. In contrast, the lifespan for white Americans fell only 1.2 years, or less than half as much as African Americans and Chicanos and Latinos. The report did not include data on Asian Americans or Native Americans.

It was clear last year that African Americans, Chicanos and Latinos, and Native Americans were getting hit the hardest by the pandemic. Lack of health insurance, especially for Chicanos and Latinos and poor health care for all these nationalities played a big role. White Americans were also more likely to have professional and semi-professional white collar jobs that could be done from home, reducing the risk of catching COVID-19 at work.

While the two previous greatest falls in U.S. lifespans in the last 100-plus years – the 1918 influenza pandemic, and World War II – saw a bounce-back in lifespans, the same is not certain today. More than 40% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have been in 2021, so there is little chance that lifespans will bounce back this year. Even worse, deaths from COVID-19 are again rising rapidly in the United States, up more than 40% in just the last two weeks.

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