Wolf Administration officials today outlined the impacts of COVID-19 on people living with substance use disorders (SUD) and highlighted projects and collaborations made possible through the opioid disaster declaration’s creation of the Opioid Command Center.
“As we continue to evaluate 2020 overdose trends, we are seeing a significant uptick in fatal overdoses,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “We know that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenges for people with the disease of addiction. Because of the disaster declaration in place, the entire Opioid Command Center, including the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, is able to offer a variety of support to people in need.”
While the 2020 counts are expected to increase further since finalized death records for overdose deaths are often delayed into the following year, there have been 4,880 drug overdose deaths reported thus far. This preliminary data, as of March 2021, indicates there were at least 422 more deaths in 2020 than in 2019. Since the overdose epidemic began, the most overdose deaths in Pennsylvania during a single year was 5,396 in 2017. Panelists will discuss the history, modalities, policies, and implementation of syringe services programs in communities. Read the full press release here.