Amid pandemic, U.S. overdose deaths on track to hit all-time high

A total of 37 states aw increase South Dakota had the highest increase in deaths, followed by the District of Columbia, Iowa, Mississippi and Maine

President Trump has been stressing that reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic should not be “worse than the disease,” and a recent tally of drug overdose deaths in the U.S., reported at, appears to bear out his warnings.

An Associated Press report on state overdose death records found that, with more than two months still left in the year, overdose deaths have risen sharply since January. This is generally believed to be a result of lockdowns and the subsequent job loss, financial hardship and increased social isolation.

All this with winter and more government-enforced lockdowns potentially on the way.

In Kentucky, for example, overdose deaths in 2020 were 30 percent more prevalent at the end of July 2020 than they were at the end of the same period in 2019.

The rising death toll is not limited to Appalachia. Increased overdose deaths are appearing in the data of states in the Northeast and West as well.

Interestingly, early data also suggest that the increase in COVID-19 deaths might have grown steeper following lockdowns in March.

If winter brings the anticipated surge in coronavirus cases to the U.S., like those currently increasing in Europe, new lockdowns could be imposed by governments all too eager to limit people’s movements and activities.

Before the coronavirus even arrived, the U.S. was in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history, with a record 71,000 overdose deaths last year. This year’s tally likely will surpass that.


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