July 13 (EIRNS)—An apparent side-effect of the “shutdown” responses to the COVID-19 pandemic is a big rise in drug overdose deaths, according to a Federal overdose tracking program. President Donald Trump and others had claimed that this was happening; he may have gotten briefed on this tracking. He has cited it as a reason to allow economic activity to rise despite increased COVID-19 risk.
There has been a sharp rise in fatal drug overdoses nationally since March, according to a long survey article in the Washington Post of July 1.
“Nationwide, federal and local officials are reporting alarming spikes in drug overdoses—a hidden epidemic within the coronavirus pandemic,” the authors wrote. “Emerging evidence suggests that the continued isolation, economic devastation and also disruptions to the drug trade in recent months, are fueling the surge.” The data come from a Federal initiative called the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, a real-time tracking system. The data show the spike continuing to accelerate now, more than three months after it started. Compared to 2019, they showed an 18% rise in March, a 29% rise in April and a 42% jump in May; the surge is reported still accelerating in June, though without complete figures. If the rise were to average out at 40% for much of the rest of the year, that would indicate close to 100,000 fatal drug overdoses in 2020, after they had finally begun to decline slightly to below 70,000 in 2018 and 2019.
“Social distancing has also sequestered people, leaving them to take drugs alone and making it less likely that someone else will be there to call 911 or to administer … naloxone” the authors concludes. Naloxone, which goes under the brand name Narcan, is used to counter overdoses, until emergency medical teams can intervene. Many anecdotes are used to fill out the long article, but the tracking figures are as close to full and national as the Federal tracking program can get.