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Open Borders, Failed COVID Policies Contribute to Record Overdose Deaths

'These facts seem to indicate, Mr. Secretary, that Americans cannot hope to keep fentanyl out of their communities...'

(Headline USA) An estimated 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in one year, a never-before-seen milestone that health officials say is tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and a more dangerous drug supply.

Overdose deaths have been rising for more than two decades, accelerated in the past two years and, according to new data, jumped nearly 30% in the latest year.

President Joe Biden called it “a tragic milestone” in a statement, as administration officials pressed Congress to devote billions of dollars more to address the problem.

It is a problem, some experts argue, that could have been exacerbated in some measure by the overly restrictive COVID mandates implemented by Biden early in his administration during the pandemic, and an open borders policy that has led to a massive increase of illegal drugs entering the U.S. 

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“This is unacceptable and it requires an unprecedented response,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of National Drug Control Policy.

Experts believe the top drivers of overdose deaths are the growing prevalence of deadly fentanyl in the illicit drug supply and the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many drug users socially isolated and unable to get treatment or other support.

That can be tied to the authoritative and dictatorial lockdown policies and mandates the Biden administration continued to push, leading to an increase in mental health issues and depression.

According to US News, measures like social distancing and restrictions on public gatherings forced many addiction treatment providers to limit in-person access to facilities. And many addiction medicine experts fear the lack of in-person social interaction may increase feelings of isolation among those struggling with substance use disorder issues, raising the risk of relapse.

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The number is “devastating,” said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University expert on drug abuse issues. “It’s a magnitude of overdose death that we haven’t seen in this country.”

Drug overdoses now surpass deaths from car crashes, guns and even flu and pneumonia. The total is close to that for diabetes, the nation’s No. 7 cause of death.

Drawing from the latest available death certificate data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 100,300 Americans died of drug overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021. It’s not an official count. It can take many months for death investigations involving drug fatalities to become final, so the agency made the estimate based on 98,000 reports it has received so far.

The CDC previously reported there were about 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020, the highest number recorded in a calendar year. Robert Anderson, the CDC’s chief of mortality statistics, said the 2021 tally is likely to surpass 100,000.

“2021 is going to be terrible,” agreed Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a drug policy expert at the University of California, San Francisco.

The new data shows many of the deaths involve illicit fentanyl, a highly lethal opioid that five years ago surpassed heroin as the type of drug involved in the most overdose deaths. Dealers have mixed fentanyl with other drugs — one reason that deaths from methamphetamines and cocaine also are rising.

Drug cartels in Mexico are using chemicals from China to mass produce and distribute fentanyl and meth across America, said Anne Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

This year, the DEA has seized 12,000 pounds of fentanyl, a record amount, Milgram said. 

The Biden administration’s failed border policy has done little to address the issue, handing cartels and smugglers a virtual free pass into the country.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee session, Rep. Mike Lee, R-Utah, blamed Homeland Security for its role in the border crisis and the resultant illicit fentanyl flood.

“Over 2 million people have likely crossed over our southern border illegally this year with no end in sight,” Lee told DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “We’ve seen no concrete plan for stopping these border surges.

“Instead, your department’s focused on climate change,” Lee continued. “These facts seem to indicate, Mr. Secretary, that Americans cannot hope to keep fentanyl out of their communities, that terrorists and gang members can’t be kept out of their neighborhoods, and criminal aliens off their streets.”

The CDC has not yet calculated racial and ethnic breakdowns of the overdose victims.

It found the estimated death toll rose in all but four states — Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey and South Dakota — compared with the same period a year earlier. The states with largest increases were Vermont (70%), West Virginia (62%) and Kentucky (55%).

Minnesota saw an increase of about 39%, with estimated overdose deaths rising to 1,188 in May 2020 through April 2021 from 858 in the previous 12-month period.

The area around the city of Mankato has seen its count of overdose deaths rise from two in 2019, to six last year to 16 so far this year, said police Lt. Jeff Wersal, who leads a regional drug task force.

“I honestly don’t see it getting better, not soon,” he said.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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