>Life expectancy in US drops
Life expectancy in the US plummeted by an entire year in the first half of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the biggest decline since World War II, said a study on Thursday.
Preliminary data from January through June 2020 showed life expectancy at birth for the total US population fell from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.8 years, the lowest since 2006, according to the study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.
"This is a huge decline," said Robert Anderson, who oversees the data for CDC. "You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this."
Life expectancy for African American populations dropped the most from 2019, by 2.7 years, to 72 years.
Latinos experienced the second-biggest decline, falling 1.9 years since 2019, to a life expectancy of 79.9 years.
>Mapping site draws criticism
A mapping site in Japan that shows areas with noisy children, loud gossipers and other “annoying” people has drawn criticism as promoting intolerance and providing an outlet for disgruntled residents seeking to lash out at their neighbors.
Opened in 2016, the site as of Feb 1 featured 5,973 registered spots nationwide.
Clicking the icons on the map will show descriptions of the specific areas, such as “children noisily playing with balls” and “their parents engage in back-fence gossip together for hours.”
Some online users have praised Dorozoku Map for “clearly displaying whether certain areas are tolerant of children’s playful voices and proving helpful for families with children to choose homes to buy.”
But others are upset that their areas have appeared on the map.
Norihisa Hashimoto, a professor emeritus of acoustic environment engineering at the Hachinohe Institute of Technology, noted that judgments on whether neighborhood sounds are “irritating noise” can be determined by the individual’s loneliness, stifling mood and other psychological factors.
>Japan appoints a 'Minister of Loneliness'
Japan has appointed a "Minister of Loneliness" to try and reduce loneliness and social isolation among its residents as the country deals with rising suicide rates.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with people more socially isolated than ever, Japan saw a rise in suicides for the first time in 11 years.
In October, more people died from suicide than from COVID-19 in Japan in all of 2020.
Studies show that loneliness has been linked to a higher risk of health issues such as heart disease, dementia, and eating disorders.
The United Kingdom was the first country to appoint a loneliness minister in 2018, after a 2017 report found that more than 9 million people in the UK said they often or always felt lonely.
But the role seems to not be a particularly desirable one, as the UK has gone through three loneliness ministers in three years.
Australia has considered creating a similar position.
>Americans will be wearing masks in 2022
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that it's "possible" Americans will still need to wear masks in 2022 to protect against the coronavirus, even as the US may reach "a significant degree of normality" by the end of this year.
"As we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with (President Joe Biden) completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality," said Fauci, who serves as Biden's chief medical adviser.
The Biden administration has been pushing mask-wearing more aggressively than the Trump administration did, with the President signing an executive order last month mandating interstate travelers wear a mask and requiring masks on federal property.
Biden also challenged Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his presidency to reduce the spread of the virus.
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