A new report by Project Opioid projects that deaths by overdose will see an increase as high as 60% by year end, compared to 2019.

ORLANDO, FL, December 02, 2020 /Neptune100/ — Today, Central Florida-based nonprofit Project Opioid, released a report titled “The COVID-19 Overdose Crisis: A Pandemic Fueling an Epidemic in Florida in 2020.” Outlining COVID-19’s impact on the drug overdose crisis, and its correlation with mental health issues and substance use, devastating findings in the Florida-specific report include:

• Overdose deaths projected to increase from 35 per day (2019), to 55 per day this year,
• a 99% increase in drug overdose deaths in May 2020, compared to May 2019,
• fentanyl continuing to be the most likely cause of death in a drug overdose, and
• black and hispanic communities with overdose rates disproportionately higher.

Andrae Bailey, founder of Project Opioid said, “The report outlines how all drug overdose deaths increased by a minimum of 43% and has a projected increase of 59% between 2019 and 2020. When we look deeper at these shocking numbers coming in, we see that Floridians are increasingly using drugs and alcohol to dull the emotion and physical pain that the pandemic has caused.” Data was provided by the Florida Department of Health.

Emergency Department visits also steadily increased in July when, per day, more than 330 Floridians were admitted to the Emergency Department for an overdose. “Age, gender, and race of overdose fatalities were also evaluated,” says Dr. Kendall Cortelyou-Ward, Project Opioid’s director of data, analytics and strategy. “While age and gender are consistent with previous years, the COVID-fueled overdose crisis may be disproportionately impacting Florida minorities.”

The new report includes a survey of 785 Floridians that had used drugs or alcohol during the last month, highlighting the impact of the pandemic on mental health and its relationship with overdose fatalities. Among the respondents, 77% said that COVID-19 had impacted their mental health and 50% of those individuals indicated they have been severely impacted. Business, faith, and community leaders around Florida are encouraged to access the report at projectopioid.org, and learn how Florida’s crisis has grown beyond a virus.

Project Opioid was founded in 2018 to address the largest public health crisis to date, in Central Florida. The organization brings together local leaders of every sector to uncover and implement real solutions to end the epidemic in the region.

For more information and the report, please visit: www.projectopioid.org.
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