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COVID-19: CDC Cites 'Substantial Increase' In Fatal Drug Overdoses Coinciding With Pandemic

A look at states seeing increases in drug overdose deaths from May 2019 to May 2020 (in shades of orange) with just three states seeing decreases (light blue).
A look at states seeing increases in drug overdose deaths from May 2019 to May 2020 (in shades of orange) with just three states seeing decreases (light blue). Photo Credit: CDC

There has been a substantial increase in fatal drug overdoses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting in a new alert.

The worst rate of deaths in the year that ended in May coincided with containment measures, including closures, during the pandemic.

"These newly released provisional fatal overdose data, coupled with the known disruption to public health, health care, and social services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related mitigation measures, highlight the need for essential services to remain accessible for those most at risk of overdose and the need to expand prevention and response activities," the CDC alert said.

There were a total of about 81,230 drug overdose deaths in the United States during that period, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) said.

Connecticut saw a 24.1 percent increase in overdose deaths, New York a 16.3 percent increase, and Massachusetts a gain of 4.5 percent. Nationally, the rate of overdose deaths increased 18 percent from May 2019 to May 2020. (See image above.)

"This represents a worsening of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States and is the largest number of drug overdoses for a 12-month period ever recorded," according to the CDC.

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