person getting vaccination at an outdoor mobile health clinic

All Of Us

Author
VP Jakub Tolar
February 5, 2021

We have grown accustomed to seeing overall life expectancy in the U.S. go up, so you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that it peaked in 2014 and has declined slightly since.

Here is the 2014 CDC data for life expectancy by race:

  • Black Americans:    75.54 years
  • White Americans:    79.12 years
  • Latino Americans:    82.89 years

And here, according to an article published in PNAS this week, is how much COVID-19 has reduced the average overall life expectancy of people born today in the US.

  • Black Americans:    2.10 years
  • White Americans:    0.68 years
  • Latino Americans:    3.05 years

If our COVID-19 response is a measure of our humanity, then these outcomes are a measure of our failure to overcome one of the most profound factors influencing the quality and length of people’s lives: access to health care—not just when sick—but to keep people well.

In the health sciences we are challenged to ask and answer: what can we do about that?

Here are some interprofessional initiatives underway to reduce health disparities:

  • Disparities in COVID Response Task Force: a U-wide collaboration with Minnesota health departments, local and regional health care systems and communities to increase COVID testing and vaccinations in diverse communities and reduce disparity gaps by coordinating and disseminating resources on testing, mobile care, and immunization events.
  • Mobile Health Initiative: brings care to communities that have inadequate access to care--for example, the migrant workers who harvest Minnesota’s crops each summer.

Our society is interconnected, and inequity in health outcomes affects all of us. From your perspective, what are some ideas for additional changes and programs to help reduce health disparities? Please let me know in the feedback below.

Note: The PNAS article was based on population data from October 2020 and only included data on the three groups listed.  For comparison, in 2014, average life expectancy for Native Americans was 75.06 years; for Asian Americans 86.67 years. 

For more demographic data about COVID-19 deaths, see: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#demographics

For demographic data about life expectancy by race in 2014, see: https://www.thebalance.com/the-racial-life-expectancy-gap-in-the-u-s-4588898.


Thank you,

Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD
Vice President for Clinical Affairs


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Sanjay Mirsa, MD

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Jason Doles, PhD

Role of mitochondria-related micro-RNAs in obesity-induced human MSC dysfunction
Alfonso Eirin, MD

Bioengineering strategies for blood diseases and regeneration
Daniel Garry, MD, PhD

Restoring vascular and neural functions in mouse models of retinal disease
Harald Junge, PhD

Unlocking chimeric competency for regenerative medicine
Walter Low, PhD

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Brenda Ogle, PhD

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Isobel Scarisbrick, PhD

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