Drug overdose fatalities in San Francisco this year outnumbered COVID-19 deaths by a three to one margin, as deaths related to the powerful painkiller fentanyl rose.
In 2020 alone, 621 people have died from drug overdoses in San Francisco, while the number of coronavirus fatalities were 173, the Associated Press reported.
According to local reports from the San Francisco Chronicle, the city’s Drug Overdose Prevention and Education (DOPE) Project used Narcan this year 3,000 times from January to November to save people who nearly died due to an overdose of fentanyl or related opioid abuse substances.
DOPE added the numbers likely exclude more accounts of Narcan usage because their records only count self-reports.
Narcan is a medication nasal spray used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses in critical situations where the user could otherwise die if left untreated.
Around 441 people died in San Francisco last year from drug overdoses, an increase of 70 percent from 2018. Additionally, Narcan was dispensed to 2,610 people in the city in 2019.
Experts have said the crisis stems from an overflow of fentanyl pouring into big cities.
Nationally, the United States is approaching 320,000 COVID-19 deaths.
At the same time, the opioid epidemic has worsened, though reported deaths are less than those of COVID-19.
While all data for 2020 is not yet publicly available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published last week over 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May, indicating the highest level recorded in a single year, the AP reported.