Blog & Update List – June 2022

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Trends Update List

Blog Feature: Life Expectancy in Benton-Franklin Counties

Impact of the Pandemic:  Life Expectancy Falls Two Years – Dropping Below State Average!

Life expectancy at birth is a popular way of showing changes in the overall health of a community. Over time, life expectancy at birth has steadily increased due to improvements in public health. Benton Franklin Trends provides the data for the county along with the state & US as benchmarks in their indicator 6.1.1 Life Expectancy at Birth.

One of the striking impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic is the swift and dramatic decline in overall life expectancy in just one year. Life expectancy at birth fell across the United States by nearly a year and half returning the nation to a level it first achieved in 2003 – essentially wiping out over 15 years of increases in health outcomes.

Washington state, in part due to higher vaccination rates and stricter masking mandates, fared better than the nation with a reduction of almost a year. For the first time in over a decade, the life expectancy at birth for an infant born in Washington fell to under 80 years.

Turning to the combined counties of Benton & Franklin, life expectancy at birth fell by two years – a steeper drop than both the state and the nation.  In 2019, life expectancy at birth in the combined counties exceeded both the state and national average. However, after just one year of the pandemic, life expectancy for the combined counties has fallen to a level below the state average. Life expectancy at the end of 2020 was just above what it was in 2003 – a regression of nearly two decades!

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic hit some groups harder than others. In particular, there was a differential response by ethnicity with Hispanic populations seeing a reduction in life expectancy of 2.8 years across the state and over 3.6 years in the combined counties, exceeding even the US average decline of three years for the Hispanic population overall.