COVID, Overdoses Drive U.S. Life Expectancy Down

VENTURA, CA - APRIL 3: Mary-Lou McCullagh, 83, and her husband Bob, 84, greet Axel Stirton, 2, the little boy who lives across the street April 3, 2020 in Ventura, California. Mary-Lou and Bob are in isolation from the Covid-19 pandemic, trying to ensure that they do not come in contact with the virus. Mary-Lou has a medical condition that makes her especially vulnerable. They are using Zoom technology to stay in touch with family and friends. Axel is a regular visitor in normal times, but he can no longer come into the house because of the risks of the Covid-19 virus. Mary-Lou and Bob comfort him in his confusion through the window. Mary-Lou is wearing Happy Birthday glasses in honor of her sons birthday which was yesterday. As infection rates soar in the USA, more and more elderly people are in isolation and cut off from any physical contact with their families and friends. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

At a glance

  • Life expectancy in the United States is at its shortest since 1996, dragged down by an increase in COVID and drug overdose deaths, according to federal data.
  • Coronavirus caused the third-most deaths in the US in 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, with only heart disease and cancer causing more.
  • Drug overdoses, which are counted among accidental injuries, were the fourth-leading cause of death.
  • There were 106,999 overdose deaths in 2021, a 16% increase from the 92,000 deaths in 2020.

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