The number of San Francisco residents who have died from drug overdoses this year far exceeded the number of Bay Area residents who have died from the coronavirus.
The shocking number of overdose deaths come as the COVID-19 pandemic has understandably been the top public health story of 2020. That has unfortunately meant that the opioid crisis has taken a back seat in terms of public health awareness.
What are the details?
According to the Associated Press, 621 people have died in San Francisco of drug overdoses thus far this year, a staggering number that equates to nearly two deaths per day.
On the other hand, just 173 San Fransisco residents have died of COVID-19.
The eye-popping number is a significant increase over drug overdose casualties in San Francisco last year when 441 Bay Area residents, still an alarming number, died from drug overdoses.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the opioid crisis has been worsened by fentanyl, an extremely toxic drug that is lethal to humans in very small amounts, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the Chronicle:
The numbers come a day after the Centers for Disease Control reported 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020 — the largest number of drug overdoses for that length of time ever recorded and a sign the epidemic is getting worse around the country.
The pandemic has also intensified the epidemic by disrupting city services and forcing many people, who often rely on others to help save them if they overdose, to use alone.
Unfortunately, the number of overdose victims could have been higher.
The Chronicle reported that first responders have used Narcan nearly 3,000 times between January of November in San Francisco this year. Narcan reverses the effects of opioids, and has saved countless lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths from cocaine have also increased substantially during the pandemic.
“Overdose deaths involving cocaine also increased by 26.5 percent. Based upon earlier research, these deaths are likely linked to co-use or contamination of cocaine with illicitly manufactured fentanyl or heroin. Overdose deaths involving psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine, increased by 34.8 percent. The number of deaths involving psychostimulants now exceeds the number of cocaine-involved deaths,” the CDC said last week.