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San Francisco devastated by 3x more drug deaths than COVID deaths in 2020

The United States has undoubtedly suffered unprecedented hardship and loss over the last year as the coronavirus ravaged its way through the country. 



The United States has undoubtedly suffered unprecedented hardship and loss over the last year as the coronavirus ravaged its way through the country. 

But, in San Francisco, one thing caused more death than the pandemic: drug overdose. 

Nearly three times as many people died from drug overdose than from the coronavirus in 2020, highlighting the city’s overwhelming drug epidemic fueled by fentanyl, according to the SF Gate. 

Specifically, that’s a whopping 699 people that died from drug overdose compared to 235 people that died from COVID, according to a new report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. 

Americans have been told time and time again to stay home and isolate, especially in California, which ultimately helped fuel the problem. Kristen Marshall, project manager for the city-funded Drug Overdose Prevention and Education Project, said the pandemic was behind the rise in overdose deaths. 

“The one golden rule of overuse prevention is to try to not use alone, and the shelter-in-place order said to keep yourself safe, you need to isolate,” Marshall told the SF Gate.

“That’s just the opposite. People at high risk went into isolation and that heightened the risk. The chaos put people at higher risk. The worst months were in the dead of summer when it was most chaotic for this community.” 

Of the 2020 overdose fatalities reported by the city, 26 percent occurred in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood with high drug-dealing numbers. The Inner Mission saw the second highest number of overdose deaths, coming in at 16 percent of the fatalities, according to the medical examiner’s report. 

“The volume of these types of deaths has increased – particularly in 2020 – over the last couple of years,” Dr. Luke Rodda, the office’s chief toxicologist, said in an interview with KTVU. “Every single one is someone’s loved one.” 

This rings true nationally as well.

Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in one year period, according to the CDC.

While overdose deaths were already increasing in the months before the pandemic hit, the latest numbers show a spike in overdose deaths during the pandemic.

“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. “As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences.”

Indeed, as demonstrated by the numbers in San Francisco, the extremely strict lockdown measures in big democrat-run cities do more to hurt than they do to help. 

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