“Life expectancy in the United States dropped last year to its lowest since 1996, extending a downward trend that began in 2020, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The latest figures from the CDC, which leave expected U.S. lifespans well below those in other large, wealthy nations, reflect the federal and local governments’ ongoing struggle to meet the demands of concurrent public health crises.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had “a domino effect,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, by “exacerbating the already very severe problem that we have in overdose deaths.”The two crises, the Covid-19 pandemic and rising drug addiction and overdoses, are “a wake-up call” for government, added Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “It clearly is what’s cutting into the health of our communities, unlike almost anything we’ve seen before.””
“The ongoing politicization of the U.S. Covid response has negatively impacted many Americans’ decisions about vaccination and other mitigation measures. Roughly 14 percent of Americans and 36 percent of people 65 and over have received the latest booster, according to the CDC.
At the same time, Volkow believes the pandemic drove social changes that made people more vulnerable to taking drugs as a way of escaping. The pandemic also made it harder to get help. “Resources that were able to support people in the past were no longer available,” she said.”