"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

COVID caused a 4.6-year decline in life expectancy in NYC

April 8, 2023 – Life expectancy in New York City fell to 78 years from 2019 to 2020, a decline of 4.6 years largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC Health announced Friday in its Annual overview population statistics.

The largest declines occurred amongst non-white populations. Life expectancy fell to 73 years for Black New Yorkers (a 5.5-year decline from 2019) and to 77.3 years for Hispanic/Latino New Yorkers (a 6-year decline). For white New Yorkers, life expectancy fell only to 80.1 years (a decline of about 3 years).

Overall, the town recorded a death rate of 241.3 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2020. That's even higher than the 228.9 deaths per 100,000 reported in the course of the 2018 flu pandemic, NYC Health said in a press release.

“The sharp decline in life expectancy beginning in 2019 was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, MD.

Another factor was a 42.2% increase in unintentional drug overdoses between 2019 and 2020. Here, too, the pandemic has highlighted ethnic differences: drug-related death rates were highest amongst black New Yorkers.

The pandemic also had an impact on the premature death rate, i.e. the death rate before the age of 65. This rate rose by 48.8 percent from 2019 to 2020. In the eight years before that, from 2011 to 2019, it fell by 8.6 percent.
“New Yorkers’ life expectancy is falling, on top of the years of relative stagnation before COVID, and this cannot continue,” Vasan said in a Press release.

The great challenge of our time, our city and our department is to set an agenda for the following era of public health, to reverse these trends and put us on a brand new path where all New Yorkers can live healthier, longer lives.”