According to the local Department of Public Health’s report, in 2020 more homeless people died because of drugs than because of COVID-19 in Los Angeles, where homelessness has always been a concern.
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According to Los Angeles County records, during the first year of the pandemic, there was a 56% rise in death among homeless people in the county, mostly due to drug overdoses rather than COVID-19.
According to the local Department of Public Health’s report (pdf given below), “Mortality among People Experiencing Homelessness in Los Angeles County: One Year Before and After the Start of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” there were 1,988 homeless deaths in the county between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, up from 1,271 deaths a year earlier.
In both years, drug overdoses were the leading cause of death, with a 78% increase in the first year of the pandemic. In the year leading up to the pandemic, there were 402 fatal overdose deaths, which jumped to 715 deaths in the year following the outbreak. In the year 2020, COVID-19 claimed the lives of 179 homeless people.
According to a Fox News story, First District Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said, “The findings in this report reflect a true state of emergency.” “In a civil society, it is unacceptable for any of us to not be profoundly disturbed by the shocking needs documented in this year’s homeless mortality report.”
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According to the data, coronary heart disease was the second leading cause of death in the first year of the pandemic, with 309 deaths, up roughly 30% from the year before. Methamphetamine was the leading cause of death, but the availability of fentanyl also contributed to the spike in deaths.
“A closer look at the OD deaths also reveals notable increase across all age and racial/ethnic groups, with the overall trend largely driven by increases among those aged 18-29 (112%), 30- 49 (112%) and among Latinx (84%) and Black (74%). The increase in OD deaths was slightly higher among men (80%) than women (71%),” the report reads.
The pandemic, according to experts in the US media, worsened drug abuse and overdoses.
“The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on people experiencing homelessness has clearly extended beyond the immediate effects of this new and deadly virus,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, according to Fox News. “The pandemic has exacerbated stressors already burdening this vulnerable population.”
In Los Angeles, homelessness has always been a concern, notably in Venice Beach and Echo Park Lake. According to reports, despite the fact that a law forbidding camping and homeless encampments in certain sections of the city went into effect in September of last year, the problem has persisted.
Read the Homeless Mortality report below: