Drug overdose deaths hit a record high with almost 97,000 reported fatalities in the 12-month period ending March, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics preliminary data showed that overdose deaths rose 29.6 percent since the year-period ending March 2020. The record fatality count occurred during a time period encompassing the bulk of the pandemic’s first year.
But the federal agency notes the data is provisional and the actual number of deaths is likely larger as death records are finalized. The center’s predicted total of actual overdose fatalities for the 12-month period ending in March surpasses 99,000.
All states but New Hampshire, New Jersey and South Dakota saw increases in overdose deaths, according to the data.
The death toll through March tops the previous record set for 2020, which according to July data reached 93,331 overdose fatalities.
The surge in overdose deaths comes after they slightly decreased in 2018 for the first time in decades. But the COVID-19 pandemic led to lockdowns and overall more seclusion and drew more health resources toward the virus and away from addressing drug use.