Pandemic lockdown cited for surge in drug overdoses in Queens

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NEW YORK, NY – A surge in drug overdoses in Queens is being blamed on the prolonged lockdown in New York City at the hands of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz today said drug overdose deaths in Queens County surged during the Covid pandemic, echoing recently-released national data.

DA Katz said, “In 2020, there were 391 overdose deaths, a 45.5 percent increase over 2019, when there were 268 overdose deaths. There is no question that the pandemic, which fueled a national drug abuse crisis, also hit us hard here in our borough.”

According to data compiled from the New York Police Department and the Office of the City Medical Examiner, 71 percent of all suspected drug overdose deaths in Queens are related to fentanyl and/or fentanyl derivatives.

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DA Katz noted, “While there were 82 homicides in Queens last year, there were nearly five times as many deaths due to drug overdoses, and the overwhelming majority were attributed to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a dangerous, lethal drug – and often people don’t even know they are taking it because it is mixed with other drugs or sold as pills. Addressing this epidemic remains one of the greatest public health challenges facing current and future generations of Queens residents.”

As highlighted in recently released federal data, COVID-19 pandemic related factors such as stress, job loss, and lockdown restrictions have exacerbated the use of opioids and drastically increased reports of overdoses both across the nation and within Queens County.

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