The average life expectancy in the United States is expected to fall because of COVID-19 and Ohio ranks among the lowest in the country, according to most recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control.
In 2019, life expectancy of an Ohioan at birth was 76.9. Women were expected to live to 79.5 years old while men were expected to live to 74.3 years old. The US life expectancy overall was 78.8 years, according to the CDC.
The 2019 data is the newest official information, but that number is expected to drop because of the pandemic. The CDC said provisional data shows that life expectancy in the United States declined by about 1.5 years from 2019 to 2020.
“The decline in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 can primarily be attributed to deaths from the pandemic, as COVID-19 deaths contributed to nearly three-fourths or 74% of the decline,” The CDC said.
The CDC said that part of the decline can also be attributed to unintentional injury deaths like drug overdoses.
The life expectancy in Montgomery County was 73.9 between 2019 and 2020, the latest preliminary data by Public-Health Dayton and Montgomery County says. The same data says that in 2012-2013, life expectancy here was 76.1.
And while COVID is a major factor impacting health in the community, there are other factors bringing down life expectancy, said Dr. Mamle Anim, the chief medical officer at Five Rivers Health Center in Dayton.
“Everyone focused on COVID but everything else didn’t stop,” she said. “A lot of the resources went to the crisis in front of us and a lot of people were afraid of seeking healthcare because they didn’t want to get COVID.”
She said smoking and obesity are problems in Montgomery County, resulting in many people dying earlier. She also said infant mortality is too high in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Health said that in 2019, more than 900 infants died before their first birthday.
Anim said it’s important that Ohioans get a good education and are taught what they need to do when pregnant to protect their child long-term.
“Knowing the factors that impact your child when you are pregnant and then having access to good prenatal care is important,” Anim said.
She also said mental health issues and drug abuse are factors negatively impacting life expectancy here. She said living a healthy lifestyle starts in childhood.
“It’s good for us to talk about diabetes and hypertension and COVID and all of that, but we also need to talk about a lot of social-economic things that if we ignore, we cannot get better,” she said. “We want to just talk about medicine but we can’t. We have to talk about everything.”