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Drug Overdose Deaths Increase by More Than 43% in Florida According to Project Opioid

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Project Opioid released a report entitled “The COVID-19 Overdose Crisis: A Pandemic Fueling an Epidemic in Florida in 2020.” The Data used in the report was provided by the Florida Department of Health.

Andrae Bailey, the founder of Project Opioid stated that, “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.” 

Some of the major findings of the report:

  • Overdose deaths are projected to increase from 35 per day in 2019 to 55 per day in 2020
  • In 2018, there were 33 overdose deaths per day, so 2020 is a significant year over year increase.
  • There was a 99% increase in drug overdose deaths in May 2020 over May 2019
  • Fentanyl is the leading cause of death in a drug overdose
  • In 2020 73% of drug overdose deaths in the state of Florida were white, non-Hispanic.
  • In 2019 75% of drug overdose deaths in the state of Florida were white, non-Hispanic.
  • The increase disproportionately affected minorities according to the report

The report broke down deaths into racial categories: black, Hispanic/Latino, and white. The general population in Florida is 53% white, 17% black, and 26% Hispanic/Latino. In 2020, 10% of the drug overdose deaths were among blacks, which was an increase over 2019 where 8% of overdose deaths were among blacks. This 2% overall increase, when separated to just black Floridians, represented a 35% increase in their deaths between 2019 and 2020. Drug overdoses among the Hispanic/Latino population in Florida have remained consistent at 16% from 2019 to 2020. The report states that the overdose numbers for Hispanic/Latino Floridians increased 67% during public health measures associated with COVID-19. 

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According to the data in Hernando County from March to June in 2019, there were 9 overdose deaths while from March to June in 2020 there were 28 overdose deaths. This was an increase of 211% for that time period. The 2019 total drug overdose deaths were 23, while so far in 2020 there have been 43. This is an 87% increase and equates to 22.17 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Project Opioid was founded in 2018 as a regional initiative in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties. The goal of the organization is to bring together leaders with the goal of reducing opioid deaths in their communities by 50% over 3 years.


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