As the pandemic raged, so did drug overdose deaths | The Numbers Racket

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Largely overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, drug overdose deaths climbed by more than 20,000 from 2019 to 2020. 

The findings from QuoteWizard, an insurance comparison website, come just days after Gov. Tom Wolf issued his 14th renewal of the Opioid Disaster Declaration, which “allows the state to loosen regulations and work outside of typical procedures to expedite aid and initiatives to help those suffering from opioid use disorder and those who work to prevent and treat this medical condition,” according to the Wolf administration. 

“The opioid and heroin epidemic is an ongoing public health crisis, one that requires immense coordination of staff and resources to save lives and promote healing,” Wolf said in a statement. “Public health emergencies like this one are complex disasters that require a concerted, sustained response from the state.”

National Statistics

According to the report, 87,203 people died of an overdose in 2020, compared to 68,757 in 2019. That’s a 27 percent increase in overdose deaths in the last year. 

Opioids are the leading cause of overdose deaths, according to the report on drug overdoses.

With new guidelines for emergency response, how will Pa. lawmakers address the opioid crisis?

Since 2015, opioids have accounted for nearly 65,000 deaths nationwide. If that total is adjusted to include synthetic, natural and semi-synthetic opioids, then the number of opioid-related deaths since 2015 rises to 129,000, or 70 percent of all overdose deaths.

States with the most overdose deaths: 

  • Pennsylvania, 5,096
  • Florida, 7,394
  • California, 8,256 

Other states such as Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia saw the highest percent of change in overdose deaths from 2019-2020. 

  • Louisiana, 53.2%
  • Kentucy, 49.2%
  • West Virginia, 49%
Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.