Large US counties show uptick in overdose deaths

Opioid overdose deaths are trending up compared to 2019 in at least 21 of the largest counties in the U.S., new data collected by The Wall Street Journal shows.

The Journal requested information on overdose deaths this year from the 50 largest U.S. counties by population. Thirty counties submitted the information.

Overdose deaths increased in counties in Nevada, California, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan, among others. The country's most populated county, Los Angeles County, saw overdoses rise by 48 percent to 247 in the first six weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to same period last year, Gary Tsai, interim director of substance abuse prevention and control for the county's public health department, told the Journal.

In Franklin County, Ohio, data available shows that the number of overdose deaths had reached 580 by late August, close to the total number of overdose deaths reported by the county in 2019.

"I don't think it would have been this high a number if COVID-19 hadn't hit us," Anahi Ortiz, MD, Franklin County coroner, told the Journal. "We're seeing a lot more relapses."

The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the opioid crisis, which has been growing for years. The isolation brought on by the pandemic has adversely affected those struggling with addition or trying to become sober, the Journal reported. In addition, social distancing is also restricting access to substance use disorder treatment.

Read the full article here.

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