Americans lost nearly two years of life in 2020 and every single state in the U.S. suffered a dip as the COVID-19 pandemic – and the many changes to the world that came with it – devastated the nation, a CDC report reveals.
The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published 2020 life expectancy figures for all 50 states and the U.S. as a whole on Tuesday. It gives the nation the first full look to how the pandemic devastated life when it erupted at the start of the new decade.
The life of the average person born in the U.S. dropped to 77 years long, down from 78.8 in 2019. All 50 states experienced some sort of drop, with the three years suffered by New York being the most.
People born Hawaii live the longest lives, reaching an average of 80.7 years of life each. The Aloha state also suffered the smallest decrease in life expectancy, losing 0.2 years of life as a result of the pandemic. Southern states like Mississippi (71.9 years of life expected), West Virginia (72.8), Louisiana (73.1), Alabama (73.2), Kentucky (73.5), Tennessee (73.8), Arkansas (73.8) finding themselves at the bottom of the list.
The report highlights the stark differences in quality of life experienced between some U.S. states – while also demonstrating how the burden of Covid was not equal across the country, with some states experiencing massive dips in only one year alone compared to others whose losses were relatively minor.
America suffered a 17 percent increase in deaths in 2020. Covid was the main driver, with the virus both killing people directly and also causing ancillary increases in deaths.
A total of 535,191 Americans dies, an 18 percent jump over the previous year. COVID-19 was responsible for 385,000 deaths, trailing only heart disease and cancer – the two typical leading causes of death for Americans.
Other causes of death saw surges during the pandemic, as lockdowns, disruptions to every day life and fear of the virus lead to issues
New York was the state struck hardest by the early waves of the pandemic, and its life expectancy suffered the most as a result. The Empire state’s life expectancy dropped from 80.7 years – the third highest of any state – in 2019 to 77.7 years – 17th.
Washington D.C. residents – who also suffered a massive surge of the virus early on in the pandemic – lost an average of 2.7 years of life in 2020. Louisiana (2.6 years of life lost), New Jersey (2.6), Arizona (2.5) and Mississippi (2.5) were among those who suffered the most as well.
Hawai’ians suffered the least as a result of the pandemic, losing an average of 0.2 years each. The island state was notably better off early in the pandemic than much of its peers. Its isolated nature allowed local officials to set strict travel restrictions, limiting spread of the virus into the state.
States concentrated in the northeast and Pacific northwest – who had stricter masking and lockdown requirements than some of their peers during Spring and Summer 2020 – like New Hampshire (0.4), Maine (0.5), Washington (0.8), Oregon (0.8) and Vermont (0.8) were also among those that had the least loss in life expectancy.
Hawai’ians also, by far, live the longest lives of anyone in America. The state remains the leader in life expectancy in the U.S. at 80.7 average years of life.
The rest of the top ten is made up of states largely concentrated along the west coast or northeastern region of America.
Washington (79.2 years of life on average) comes in second, followed by Minnesota (79.1), California (79), Massachusetts (79), New Hampshire (79), Vermont (78.8), Oregon (78.8), Utah (78.6) and Connecticut (78.4).
States at the bottom of the list are concentrated in the U.S. south, an area that has struggled with poverty, lack of health care access, and a myriad of issues like drug overdoses, obesity and diabetes at higher rates than their peer states.
Many southern states were also among those slammed the hardest by the summer Covid surge that struck the nation in 2020.
Mississippi residents have the shortest lives, with 71.9 average years of life. A study published last month by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic and Emory University found that residents of the Magnolia state suffer a 50 percent increased rate of heart failure than any other state in America – and seven times that of states like Minnesota.
Many of Mississippi’s neighbors follow it at the bottom of the list. West Virginia (72.8 average years of life), Louisiana (73.1), Alabama (73.2), Kentucky (73.5), Tennessee (73.8), Arkansas (73.8), Oklahoma (74.1), New Mexico (74.5) and South Carolina (74.8) make up the rest of the bottom of the list.
A report published earlier this month by NiceRx found that some of these states – notably Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas and Oklahoma – are also among the least healthy places in America.
According to U.S. Census data, much of the nation’s poverty is concentrated in the south. Diabetes and obesity rates in the south – which are tied to higher mortality from heart disease, cancer and Covid – are higher as well.