Well, it’s a start.

Life expectancy in the United States began rising from COVID-era lows in 2022, jumping to 77.5 years old after a two-year dip, data published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed.

But, hold your applause — the newly-released stats remain among the worst number crunchers have seen in years, placing Americans even further behind their developed nation peers.

“Put simply, the fact that life expectancy in 2022 was lower than in 2019 means that Americans continue to die at higher rates than they did before the pandemic, despite the rebound,” Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health, told CNN.

The record high — 78.9 years — was reached in 2014.

Woolf noted that many other so-called wealthy countries have made more “substantial” recoveries post-pandemic.

“We are hardly out of the woods,” he said.

One particularly sad trend was spotlighted within the new data — a spike in child deaths.

The infant mortality rate was 560.4 infant deaths per 100,000 live births in 2022, an increase of 3.1% from the rate in 2021.

The death rate among children ages 1 to 4 jumped 12% between 2021 and 2022 and 7% for children 5 to 14.

“This is a red flashing light about the poor health status of Americans and how it now puts our children at risk,” Woolf said. “This trend does not explain decreases in life expectancy for the total population, which is driven by deaths in adults, but it is alarming nonetheless because it means that our children, our most cherished population, are less likely to survive to adulthood.”

Drug overdoses are just one devastating damper on the country’s overall life expectancy — in 2022, fatal overdoses killed more people than ever recorded before.

“There are a lot of factors contributing to the overdose epidemic in the US, making it harder to shift the trend from an increase in deaths to a decrease, said Susan Sherman, a Bloomberg Professor of American Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Otherwise, the leading causes of death remained the same as in 2021 with a few changes in ranks — heart disease and cancer remained in the top two spots, respectively, causing 2 out of every 5 deaths, nationwide.

Age-adjusted death rates from COVID-19 dropped by more than half between 2021 and 2022 — key to the improved numbers we’re now seeing. The virus killed more than 186,000 Americans in 2022, or about 6% of the total deaths.

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