Pandemic causes biggest decline in life expectancy since WWII, especially for minorities

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Life expectancy across the country dropped by almost two years from 2018 to 2020.

This marks the largest decline since World War II.

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A new study from Virginia Commonwealth University shows white Americans have lost more than a year life expectancy.

But the decline was worse for minorities.

Black Americans lost almost three and half years and Hispanic Americans lost almost four years.

“Decreasing the amount of health access, people were concerned about the financial impact of seeking healthcare so it may be delayed seeking healthcare,” said Dr. LaTonya Washington, president of the Bluff City Medical Society.

It’s a trend that’s very concerning for the Bluff City Medical Society, a collective of black doctors in the Memphis area.

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Dr. Washington said the impact isn’t always medical.

“That’s less time that grandparents are getting to spend with grandkids, parents are getting to spend with their children. It’s very, very concerning,” said Washington.

Now that this information is available, Dr. Washington said health agencies have to recognize it and find ways to improve these numbers.

“Health equity is key, making sure that we improve access to healthcare make sure we stress the importance of seeking early healthcare, making sure we’re staying on top of chronic conditions and working to prevent conditions as well,” she said.