U.S. Centers for Disease Control

WASHINGTON — Drug overdoses are rising dramatically across the U.S. as the isolations and stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic take their toll.

“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “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.”

The CDC reports more than 81,000 drug overdose occurred in the U.S in the 12 months ending in May 2020.

That is the latest data available and the most overdose deaths ever reported by the CDC.

The U.S. health agency said the numbers show a marked acceleration of overdose deaths during the coronavirus pandemic which started in March.

The CDC said synthetic opioids, namely fentanyl, is the primary driver of the jump in overdose deaths. Deadly fentanyl overdoses are up 38.4% from June 2019 to May 2020, according to the CDC.

Fentanyl and opioids have been major public health concerns on the Eastern Shore.

Fatal cocaine overdoses were up 26.5% and deadly overdoses involving crystal meth and other psycho-stimulants were up 34.8%, according to the CDC.

The pandemic has had all kinds of tolls and costs on daily life.

There have been 5,279 deaths in Maryland and 317,656 deaths in the U.S. attributed to COVID, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Johns Hopkins University.

On the economic and financial fronts, Maryland is down 121,600 jobs from November 2019 to November 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. economy lost more than 22.2 million jobs at the beginning of the pandemic. It has gained 12.3 million jobs back. That is still a 9.9 million jobs deficit.

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