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San Francisco had nearly three times more drug OD deaths in 2020 than COVID-19 deaths

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Given all the media attention COVID-19 has received, much of it justified, imagine the response to something that caused even more deaths.

Well, look no further than the liberal city of  San Francisco, which saw nearly three times as many people die from drug overdoses than from the coronavirus last year, according to SF Gate, the sister site of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The newspaper reported that the deaths are “a staggering data point that highlights the city’s dire drug epidemic fueled by the powerful painkiller fentanyl.”

All of which occurring in a city that is home to the most powerful woman in politics, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who is currently consumed with impeaching a private citizen from an office he no longer holds.

A somewhat surprising stat shared in the article is that San Francisco saw 235 deaths caused by COVID-19 — the city’s population is estimated to be 882,519.

More from SF Gate:

A record 699 people died of overdoses from January through December in 2020, according to a new report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. This number may seem surprising amid the global COVID-19 pandemic when San Francisco has shuttered schools and businesses to prevent deaths. In S.F., 235 people passed away from complications of the coronavirus in 2020.

The city’s drug crisis is deepening because fentanyl, which can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, flooded the city’s drug supply, the newspaper said. Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic has 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.

 

Fentanyl is the drug that George Floyd reportedly had in his system the day he died in the streets of Minneapolis. While the months of rioting and looting that followed his death in May 2020 were precipitated by the image of a police officer kneeling on his neck, an autopsy suggests that Floyd died from an overdose.

Kristen Marshall, project manager for the city-funded Drug Overdose Prevention and Education Project (DOPE 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 paper. “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 the summer when it was most chaotic for this community.”

Meanwhile, Mayor London Breed was excited to announce that San Francisco will be moving forward with some limited re-openings related to the pandemic.

And while Breed’s Twitter feed is replete with pandemic-related tweets, it’s rather silent about the nearly three times higher drug overdose deaths in the city.

As noted by City Journal, which reported that drugs “are destroying San Francisco’s most densely populated and desirable neighborhoods,” the city distributes 4.45 free needles each year to the city’s 22,000 intravenous drug users.

Tom Tillison

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