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New York drug overdose deaths spiked by 68% during COVID pandemic

(NEW YORK) — Drug overdose deaths in New York state spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the state comptroller’s office.

The analysis, published Tuesday, found that fatalities surged by 68% between 2019 and 2021.

Additionally, the more than 5,800 deaths statewide from drugs in 2021 surpassed the previous peak in 2017 by more than 1,700.

“Too many New Yorkers have died from the misuse of drugs, but the jump in these numbers is alarming,” comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement. “It is a tragedy that devastates families and impacts our communities in countless ways.”

The report also found that the number of deaths linked to opioids has skyrocketed.

In 2021, the rate of opioid overdoses was 25 per 100,000 in New York, a spike from five per 100,000 in 2010.

Additionally, the report found there were disparities in drug overdose fatalities across racial and ethnic groups.

During the pandemic, death rates rose fivefold for Black residents and quadrupled for Hispanic residents. White New Yorkers also saw a rise in drug overdose deaths, with rates tripling during the pandemic.

“The data shows our battle against drug overdose deaths is far from over,” DiNapoli’s statement continued. “State leaders must ensure an ongoing commitment of public resources and strategies, including new funding from legal settlements, and innovative, evidence-based solutions for the fight against this deadly epidemic to be effective.”

The trends in New York reflect those seen on a national level. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year showed that more than 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose during the first year of the pandemic.

It’s a 29% increase from the same period in 2019 and equates to a person dying every five minutes.

According to the CDC, many of those drug fatalities were due to opioids, particularly synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

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