New data showing that Missouri life expectancy dropped last year to its lowest level in decades can be explained in part by the echoes of the pandemic a year earlier — but only in part. The state’s numbers in the new report continue to be worse than the national average, and they dropped more in the past two years than they did nationally.

It’s worth asking how much of it may be attributable to foot-dragging by state officials in taking both the coronavirus and the opioid crises seriously. Then there’s the rise in firearms-related suicides, which should be unsurprising given the state’s almost complete lack of safeguards against disturbed people buying guns.

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