According to a new report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control, the life expectancy at birth in the United States fell to 77.0 iyears n 2020, falling from 2019’s life expectancy of 78.8 years. The report also noted an increase of mortality with age-adjusted mortality in the US rising from 715.2 per 100,000 in 2019 to 836.4 per 100,000 in 2020.
Media reporting on the CDC’s report provide a variety of statistics on one-year percentage changes, no doubt with an eye toward maximizing the perceived effect of covid-19 on American health. But what are the trends when we look at these numbers in the larger context? That is, just how much has life expectancy and mortality swung from what we’ve experienced in recent decades? A closer look at these numbers suggests that covid does not exactly represent an epochal change in life expectancy, health, or healthcare. Moreover, the new numbers also help illustrate how efforts by journalists earlier this year to describe covid-19 as “deadlier” than the 1918 flu were wildly off the mark.