CDC data indicates drug overdoses in Ohio increased last year, a painful reminder that COVID-19 is just one ongoing public health crisis in the U.S.
Provisional data shows 4,280 Ohioans died of drug overdoses in 2019, up 7% from 2018.
Nearly 3,500 of the deaths are attributable to opioids.
Nationally, drug overdoses hit a record high, exceeding a peak set in 2017.
The data reflects a year in time before the emergence of the new coronavirus. The contagion crisis and social distancing it requires kneecapped a booming economy, further worsening the pandemic’s strain on the country’s mental health.
What effect that strain has on overdose numbers remains to be seen.
Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Melanie Amato said the department has noticed an uptick in overdoses in 2020. However, the data is preliminary as coroners have six months to get their data to the state.
The American Medical Association said it is “greatly concerned” by reports of increases in opioid overdose deaths during the pandemic in a statement earlier this month.
Jake Zuckerman is a statehouse reporter. He spent three years chronicling the West Virginia Legislature for The Charleston Gazette-Mail after covering cops and courts for The Northern Virginia Daily. Read more Ohio Capital Journal stories here.