Report: 2020 was worst on record for fatal overdoses

April 27, 2021 GMT

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Data shows 2020 was Virginia’s worst year on record for fatal drug overdoses.

A new report from the Virginia Department of Health shows nearly 2,300 people died from overdoses, The Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday. That’s a 41% increase from 2019, which was already record-breaking.

The report’s author, Rosie Hobron, who is the statewide forensic epidemiologist with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, said all corners of the state have been impacted.

Fentanyl, a potent opioid that often gets mixed in with other drugs, accounted for about 72% of all overdose deaths, according to the report.

“One thing I want to highlight is the shocking numbers of illicit fentanyl,” Hobron said in an email to the newspaper Monday. “That’s huge and that’s terrifying. That’s because many drugs are being sold as something else (cocaine, heroin, Rx drugs) but are cut with fentanyl or are completely all fentanyl.”

The newspaper has previously reported state and local officials were seeing drastic increases in calls for help related to drug addiction amid the pandemic.