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Study finds COVID-19 lowers life expectancy especially in Latino, Black Americans

Posted at 6:20 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 09:48:58-05

MAGIC VALLEY, Idaho — A new study from University of Southern California and Princeton University researchers found COVID-19 lower life expectancy, especially for Latino and Black Americans.

"A Latino person in the United States of a given age is more likely to die from COVID than a Caucasian person, and why that is, we don't know," Joshua Kern, Vice President of Medical Affairs for St. Luke's Magic Valley, said.

Kern believes this is what contributed to the findings of this study. Latino and Black Americans' life expectancy is lowered by a lot more because, throughout the nation, those two groups have higher death rates from COVID-19.

"I know there were some Latinos in their 40s who died. Somebody in their 40s and statistically expected to live for 30 more years, that changes the expected life span of the entire population," Kern said.

Studies, like the one conducted by USC and Princeton researchers, calculate their findings based on how many people have died and how old they were at the time of death. Kern says the study's results do not mean each person infected with COVID-19 will automatically have a lower life expectancy, but rather, the findings talk about the community as a whole.

"This is lowering the mortality rate, not lowering the expected death rate for a person. Like if you get COVID, it's not changing your expected life span. It's changing the population-wide life span," Kern said.

The reasons why the virus impacts Latino and Black Americans more are unclear, but Dr. Kern says there are some contributing factors.

"Taking New York as an example, people who were working frontline jobs and couldn't work from home were disproportionately people of color so, of course, they were getting the virus more and being impacted and having higher death rates than people who could work from home," Kern said.

Both the South Central Public Health District and St. Luke's have worked to provide COVID-19 information in Spanish to ensure as many people as possible get the information they need to protect themselves from COVID-19.