As states across America remain in various stages of lockdown due to COVID-19, state and county health officials reported this month that opioid deaths are spiking in places as people continue to attempt to cope with the impact the shutdown has had on their lives.
While national data isn’t available for most of 2020, as reported by Fox News, health officials and other experts have pointed to isolation, job loss, and related factors due to statewide shutdowns as possible factors for the surge in drug-related deaths.
According to a national survey conducted in June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they had started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to the pandemic.
Five months later, the problem has only grown worse.
In Onondaga County, New York, opioid overdose deaths doubled through the first six months of the year and continue to spike, as reported by Syracuse.com. Eighty-six county residents died through June, up from 44 reported deaths through the first half of 2019. Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine, was implicated in most of the overdoses. Of the 86 deaths, 41 involved fentanyl, 40 involved a mix of fentanyl and heroin, while five cases involved other opioid drugs.
“The pandemic has really increased risk factors for substance abuse disorder,” Rebecca Shultz, director of community health at the Onondaga County Health Department, told Syracuse.com.
Similar spikes have occurred across the country. As noted by former New York Times reporter and author Alex Berenson, a 50 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths nationally would be an additional 35,000+ deaths vs. 2019.
Opioid overdose deaths in 2020 compared to 2019:
Up 95% in Syracuse (Jan-June)
70% in Oregon (spring)
50% in Kentucky (Jan-August)
25% in Maine (Jan-June)
Nationally, a 50% rise in overdoses would be 35,000+ additional deaths in 2020.
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) October 25, 2020
Oregon saw a 70% increase in opioid overdose deaths in April and May of this year, compared to the same time last year, according to the Oregon Health Authority. While the department called the rise an “alarming spike,” it also said it was “premature to say how much of the spike in overdose deaths is attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Regardless of how “premature” a conclusion might be, Tom Jeanne, deputy state health officer and deputy state epidemiologist, admitted:
“However, the realization that we will be dealing with COVID-19 for some time, and other stressors related to jobs, school, and social isolation, may increase feelings of anxiety and depression, and that can lead to a harmful level of alcohol or other drug use.”
As reported by CBN News last week, Franklin County, Ohio, has also seen a sharp increase in deaths from overdose since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the local coroner, Dr. Anahi Ortiz, to speak out about what she says are the grim facts.
“By the first six months of 2020, current data shows that we saw a 73.4 percent increase in overdose fatalities in Franklin County. I think the anxiety and depression that has come from COVID-19 has exacerbated addiction in a number of ways.
“Thinking about families who already have the anxiety and isolation from COVID-19 and their loved one has just died from addiction, that’s just a tremendous burden to bear.
“Then you have folks who perhaps because they became unemployed, etc., may have not been able to buy their usual, and then when they do get some money, they start using again, and they start at the same doses they were taking previously, and that’s when they die.”
— CBN News (@CBNNews) October 19, 2020
Also from Fox News:
In Maine, which saw 258 overdose deaths from January through June, there was a 27% increase over the second half of 2019. Officials cited increased isolation as a partial factor for the rise.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told FOX40 Sacramento that “in some of our counties, there are more deaths from overdoses than there are from COVID-19.”
Preliminary overdose death counts were up in Connecticut more than 19% through the end of July, compared with the same period last year. They were up 9% in Washington through the end of August, 28% in Colorado, and 30% in Kentucky during that same time.
Generally, the “mainstream” media refuses to give President Trump credit for anything he does, Trump in 2017 became the first president to declare the opioid crisis a national health emergency. Astonishingly, even CNN credited the president for his action.
Trump told an audience in the East Room of the White House that “we can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”
“This epidemic is a national health emergency. Nobody has seen anything like what is going on now. As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction. Never been this way. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it.”
In 2018, Trump signed a bill increasing federal opioid funding to record levels.
Given the reality that if Trump singlehandedly cured cancer, TDS-riddled Democrats, Never-Trumper “conservatives,” and the liberal media lapdogs would torch him for putting oncologists out of work, one often wonders — this one, anyway — where he would be in the polls right now if he had received due credit over the last four years for his accomplishments. You know, at the same level
Chicago Jesus Barack Obama received showering praise for “total disasters,” as Trump might say, for, oh, Obamacare.
Moreover, day after day, week after week, month after month, Trump has warned about the consequences of the impact of prolonged shutdown and isolation; the draconian measures in states like Michigan, Oregon, and California. And the response from the “mainstream” media? [Cue the crickets.]