Although the coronavirus pandemic is being presented as the only major health crisis plaguing the U.S., another massive crisis is claiming even more lives in at least one California city.
“Overdose deaths far outpace COVID-19 deaths in San Francisco,” the Associated Press reported Saturday. Over the course of this year, 621 people have died from drug overdoses in the city, the AP reports, compared to just 173 lives lost to the coronavirus.
According to the AP, these figures would be even worse “if it wasn’t for the nearly 3,000 times Narcan was used from January to the beginning of November to save someone from the brink of death.”
Narcan is the trade name for naloxone, a drug that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when administered in time.”
The 621 deaths represent a huge increase over the 441 who passed away from overdoses last year. What’s more, 2019’s total was itself a 70% increase over the year before that, the AP said.
Those grim numbers have largely been attributed to fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic that is said to be “50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.”
Fentanyl from China?
A Justice Department report released in 2018 stated that “[i]llicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and their immediate precursors are often produced in China.”
“From China, these substances are shipped primarily through express consignment carriers or international mail directly to the United States, or, alternatively, shipped directly to transnational criminal organizations (TCO) in Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean,” the report noted.
The problem is also exacerbated by COVID-related shutdown measures that have “disrupted city services like housing and treatment, and left many people who rely on others to help save them if they overdose to use alone,” the AP reported.
The outlet went on: “Many people overdosed in low-income apartment buildings and in city-funded hotel rooms for the homeless. Others died on sidewalks, in alleyways and parks around the city.”
So-called “deaths of despair” have gone up in the United States as well as in countries around the world this year.
According to a Fox News report from November, more Japanese people killed themselves in the month of October than died of COVID-19 throughout the entire year.