In 2020, a record 621 people in San Francisco died of drug overdoses, up from 441 in 2019 and more than three times the number of COVID-19 deaths in the county. Across the country, the coronavirus killed far more people than illegal drugs did, but San Francisco’s plight underscores how the opioid epidemic continued to rage in the shadow of the pandemic.
In mid-December, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 81,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the 12 months ending in May—the highest number ever recorded in one year. The CDC warned states must implement more prevention measures before the crisis worsens.
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