Deaths resulting from overdoses of Heroin, Fentanyl or combination of the two drugs more than doubled in 2019, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday.
According to preliminary statistics compiled by city authorities, deaths from overdoses of Fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller 100 times more powerful than morphine, alone reached 234 in 2019, up from 90 in 2018. Total deaths resulting from overdoses of Fentanyl, Heroin or the two together hit 290, while in 2018 there were 134 such deaths.
“We had a feeling through the year that we were seeing more and more deaths, but this is really quite staggering,” city chief forensic toxicologist Dr. Luke Rodda told the Chronicle. Rodda added that this was one of the reasons preliminary statistics on the deaths were being released this early into the new year: “We didn’t want to wait six months. That’s good for reports, but not public awareness.”
The data represents an exponential increase in overdoses since 2009, when 17 people in all were killed by heroin and Fentanyl overdoses.
“It’s devastating. It’s awful. It’s the most deadly epidemic that we’ve seen in our city since the HIV/AIDS crisis was killing thousands of people,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the Tenderloin district where the opioid crisis has hit the city hardest. “It is painful that this is not something being talked about every day at City Hall.”
San Francisco, along with Los Angeles, has been struggling with a major homelessness crisis in addition to the opioid epidemic. Close to 30,000 people in the Bay Area are homeless, while 60,000 homeless people reside in Los Angeles County. President Trump highlighted the issue during a September visit to California.
“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco, and numerous other cities destroy themselves,” Trump commented to reporters.
Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has recently proposed a $1 billion plan to alleviate the homelessness crisis.