Scary Declines in US Life Expectancy Reach Illinois

Jalen Flowers, Staff writer

Illinois is one of eight states to have seen their average life expectancy decline by at least two years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its National Vital Statistics Report in August and revealed unsettling decreases in American life expectancy. According to the report, this drop is the largest year to year difference in 75 years.

COVID-19 has stricken the life expectancy rates of Texas, New York, Louisiana, New Jersey, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico and Illinois.  Prior to 2020, the average citizen in these states lived to see nearly 78 years.

“The decline in life expectancy isn’t something the country has experienced since such major events as the 1918 flu pandemic or World War II.” Scott Kaiser, geriatrician and director of geriatric cognitive health at Providence Saint John’s Health Center told Health magazine. Kaiser says these new statistics should be a wakeup call.

We have not seen the post-COVID era of the United States yet. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 26,000 new cases of COVID-19 the week of August 12. Experts say Americans are still feeling the ramifications of the pandemic, and it’s evident through the average duration of our lives.

Illinois and its contiguous state Missouri have seen crucial drops since 2020. Missouri’s life expectancy has dropped by 1.8 years, just under the two-year declines of nine other states. The average Illinois resident lives for about 79 years, but the state has been on the decline in recent memory. This year, no single state has seen an increase in life expectancy.

Southern states have routinely had the lowest life expectancy rates and have also seen a significant decrease over the last two years. Mississippi has the lowest life expectancy in the United States, as the average resident lives 72 years.

Other than the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, low life expectancy rates have been linked to an increase in inadvertent injuries and drug use. The IDPH reported nearly 3,500 drug related fatalities in April 2021.

In order to change the gradually declining life expectancy in the United States, Americans are advised to be more responsible and proceed with caution as a country.