The life expectancy for African Americans declined the most from 2019 – by 2.7 years, to 72 years – its lowest level since 2001, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The study, which also found overall life expectancy in the U.S. dropped to its lowest level in 15 years, comes as Black Americans grapple with the lack of access to the two available coronavirus vaccines.

The study’s conclusions coincided with news that President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats moved toward a sweeping $1.9 trillion rescue package that could include direct payments of as much as $5,600 for families of four.

The full House could pass the legislation this week.

As currently structured, the legislation would provide direct payments of as much as $1,400 per person.

The full amount would go to individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and married couples earning less than $150,000.

The payments, which are calculated based on either 2019 or 2020 income, would cut off individuals earning more than $100,000 and families earning more than $200,000.

Unlike previous stimulus packages, adult dependents would be eligible for the payments.

“This is much more of a life-line than we’ve seen previously,” said Jamaal McFadden, a Washington, D.C.-based investment analyst. “It had always been mind-boggling, with all of the student loan debt and the fact that during the pandemic many young adults have lost their jobs and moved back home, that left young adults out of the previous packages.”

If passed in its current form, the bill would increase the federal weekly unemployment boost to $400, from the current $300, extend the 15 percent increase in food stamp benefits through September, and it would include $880 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, nearly $19.1 billion would go to state and local governments for back rent, rent assistance and utilities for at-risk, low-income households with unemployed members.

States and tribes would receive an estimated $10 billion for mortgage payment assistance and other financial help to homeowners affected by the pandemic.

About $11 billion is earmarked to provide rental assistance, homeless services and support, housing counseling and mortgage support.

Further, the bill would expand the child tax credit to $3,600 for children under six and $3,000 for children under age 18, and would make the credit fully refundable, allowing more low-income parents to take advantage of it.

President Biden and House Democrats also want to allow families to receive child tax credit payments monthly, instead of in a lump sum once a year.

Proponents have opined that it’s the right time to go big in this stimulus package – which President Biden has dubbed “The American Rescue Plan.”

“Frankly, given the makeup of the Senate, this is our best opportunity and the right moment in the midst of this pandemic to give millions of workers a long-overdue raise,” proclaimed Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

Democrats control the White House and the House of Representatives. While there is a 50-50 split in the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, holds the tie-breaking vote in that chamber.

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have labeled a robust stimulus potentially life-saving for many.

Their views were enhanced by CDC’s life expectancy study conclusions, particularly for African Americans.

Data collected by the CDC through June 2020 shows life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population fell from 2019 by a year to 77.8 years.

The CDC report highlighted that, during the pandemic, African Americans are hospitalized with COVID-19 at 2.9 times the rate of White Americans and die at 1.9 times the overall rate.

Latinos are hospitalized at more than three times the rate and die more than twice the rate of White Americans.

Before the pandemic, the life expectancy gap between Black, Latino, and White populations was narrowing.

“It was disturbing to see that gains that have been made for the Black community and decreasing the gap between life expectancy for African Americans and (white) Americans over the past six years had come to a halt,” Dr. Leon McDougle, president of the National Medical Association, told USA Today.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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