Government officials are reporting a huge uptick in overdose deaths due to the isolation and despair caused by the prolonged COVID-19 societal lockdown.
An official with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office says that the problem is worse than he has ever seen, with far more people turning to drugs throughout the pandemic.
“I think it’s an issue and it’s something that we are pulling out the stops and utilizing our people and our resources to try to combat,” Maj. John Budensiek said.
Maj. Budensiek’s office is trying to choke off of the supply so desperate individuals do not have the option to destroy their lives with dope during the pandemic, but it is an uphill battle.
“We know we’re in the middle of a pandemic. People are depressed, people are probably turning to drug and alcohol abuse and use more than they would before,” he said.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office reports that the county has seen 138 overdoses and 28 drug overdose deaths this year so far. At this point in 2019, there were 90 drug overdoses and 14 drug overdose deaths. This is a 65 percent increase in overdoses and a 100 percent increase in overdose deaths year over year.
It is not just in Florida where overdoses are spiking. The American Medical Association released an issue brief earlier this month reporting that 35 states are reporting an increase in opioid-related deaths during a time in which usage rates were already near record highs.
“The AMA is greatly concerned by an increasing number of reports from national, state and local media suggesting increases in opioid-related mortality—particularly from illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. More than 35 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder in counties and other areas within the state,” they wrote in their brief urging state and federal officials to take action to curb this alarming trend.
Caroline Franklin, a clinical therapist at Retreat Behavioral Health in Lake Worth Beach, believes that the anxiety caused by the pandemic mixed with the additional free time is a combination that has many Americans turning to drugs in order to cope.
“I think a lot of this especially right now we are seeing is coming from COVID-19,” Franklin said. “I think the anxiety is increasing which then sometimes turns people towards drugs.”
“A huge portion of people are socially isolated. Whether they were working before or not, an increased amount of depression and anxiety is being seen right now,” she added. “Everyone being home and not having as much interaction with people that they consider their support people, people they care about, can be really detrimental.”
When President Donald Trump said that the cure must not be worse than the disease, this is exactly what he was talking about. The death total caused by the shutdown could be larger than the COVID-19 death total by the time this is all over.
Alameda County, California Will PAY Those Who Test Positive for Coronavirus $1,250
Bad Idea Hall of Fame?
A northern California county has approved a trial plan to pay anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus disease $1,250, with the idea that paying them to stay home is the only way to deter them from spreading the disease.
Alameda county supervisors are arguing that it’s the only way to prevent people from spreading the disease. “Many of them just could not afford to lose two weeks’ worth of wages to quarantine and isolate,” said policy director Vanessa Cedeño.
It’s unclear how Alameda County plans to deal with the prospect of individuals intentionally contracting coronavirus with the promise of filing for unemployment and receiving the county’s generous stipend for a positive diagnosis. The trial plan does require documentation of a positive test to receive the payment.
The plan may be geared towards illegal immigrants, as county supervisors are maintaining immigration status may not be taken into account. Recipients of the payment also can’t be receiving unemployment benefits, but it’s unclear how the county government plans to verify this.
The plan could unwitting set off a firestorm of coronavirus within the county, incentivizing hundreds or thousands of young and healthy people to intentionally procure the disease, acquire antibodies to it, and secure a Alameda County check in doing so.
There’s a strong case to be made for renewed unemployment payments, another round of TrumpBux-style payments(possibly recurring), or even more social safety measures in the duration of the coronavirus epidemic, but paying individuals on the mere basis of a coronavirus diagnosis could be a strong contender for induction into the Bad Ideas Hall of Fame.
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