Death from the COVID-19 pandemic was not limited to mortality from respiratory illness. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 68,000 died from opioid overdose in 2020, and more than 80,000 died from opioid overdose in 2021 ( Surging opioid deaths is among the many causes of excess mortality associated with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Investigators at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee used spatiotemporal analysis of opioid overdoses from 2017 through 2020 to causally link the rise in opioid overdoses to the onset of the pandemic (J Urban Health 2022;99:316-27). While all communities experienced an increase in opioid overdoses with the onset of the pandemic, Black and Hispanic communities in poor urban neighborhoods were disproportionately affected compared to affluent suburban White neighborhoods.

The surge in opioid deaths is partly due to the growing street use of synthetic opioids. Two-thirds of overdose deaths in 2022 were...

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