The number of fentanyl deaths in one California county more than doubled in 2020, and those who died were younger, on average, than in the previous two years, KQED reports.
An analysis by KQED and the Documenting COVID-19 project at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation found 11 people died from a fentanyl overdose in Santa Clara County in 2018. That increased to 27 people in 2019 and 73 people in 2020.
Preliminary data shows the median age of those who died from fentanyl overdoses in the county last year was 26. One was just 12 years old. Many people who died from too much fentanyl thought they were taking much less potent drugs, county officials said.
Mira Parwiz Shamel, who directs addiction medical services for Santa Clara County, said younger people had increased exposure to fentanyl during the pandemic. “Because the schools were closed, kids at home had more access to the internet,” Shamel said. “A lot of these drug deals are happening through social media sites.”
Decreased access to treatment programs during the pandemic also contributed to the rise in deaths, Shamel said.