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Life expectancy in US drops dramatically due to COVID-19 pandemic

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (CNN) - Another symptom of the COVID-19 pandemic, a dramatic drop in life expectancy in the U.S.

A new CDC report is highlighting the steepest decline since World War II.

The emerging data shows some major racial disparities.

Living shorter lives in America.

A federal report finding overall life expectancy in the United States fell by a year and a half with an even steeper drop for Hispanic and Black Americans.

"The U.S. has had the steepest decline that has been documented since world war two," Dr. Mary Bassett, professor of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. "So this is serious."

The CDC report found the drop between 2019 and 2020 was mostly due to increases in deaths linked to COVID-19, but also diabetes, heart disease and chronic liver disease, among other factors.

Bassett says the U.S. was already dealing with an alarming rise in mortality, even before the pandemic.

"The U.S. hasn't been doing that well in terms of life expectancy for decades. It fell out of the pack of other wealthy countries beginning in the 1980s," she said. "And in 2014, the U.S. began to chart small declines in life expectancy. So COVID really knocked us back."

For men, the CDC report found life expectancy dropped from 76.3 to 74.5 years.

For women, life expectancy dropped from 81.4 to 80.2 years.

The data also shows the historic drop disproportionally impacted Black and Hispanic Americans with both groups experiencing a decline of about 3 years.

"What it highlights are very longstanding and enduring disparities in access to the resources for health um that exists," Bassett said.

The CDC report was based on provisional data from death and birth records for the year 2020, which were processed by the national center for health statistics.

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