ICWA News & Views

Weekly Stories about What’s Happening in Washington State and Stories of Interest to Washingtonions

by Gerald Braude

In this post:

  1. Links to Radio Show references
  2. Correlation Between Washington Lockdowns and Drug Overdose Deaths

July 1 Episode of An Informed Life Radio Notes and Links

Guest: Dr. Henry Ealy aka “Dr. H”

Correlation Between Washington Lockdowns and Drug Overdose Deaths

On the June 30, 2022, Episode 274, show of The Highwire, Washington was mentioned during the Jaxen Report concerning the effects of lockdowns on drug overdoses. The discussion began by mentioning the bottom of the list of states with the fewest lockdown restrictions as reported by WalletHub.com for April 5, 2021.   

States with the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions (wallethub.com)

The bottom of this list for the states with the fewest restrictions are as follows; 

  • 45. California
  • 46 (tied). New York
  • 46 (tied). Washington
  • 48. Virginia
  • 49. Delaware
  • 50. District of Columbia
  • 51. Vermont

In other words, Washington is among the states rated as having the toughest lockdown restrictions. 

The Highwire then flashed across the screen headlines concerning drug overdose increases in the above high lockdown states, such as below: 

  • + New York saw record overdose deaths in 2020, health officials say Spectrum News 1 April 5, 2022)
  • + Overdose deaths in Virginia and District of Columbia were up more than 40% in 2020 (WAMU 88.5)
  • + Vermont leads United States in pandemic overdose death rate (November 19, 2021)
  • + Los Angeles hits a high for drug overdose deaths (Crosstown April 29, 2022)

The Highwire did not mention Washington in any of those headlines, but the Washington Department of Health web site shows in an April 12, 2022 “immediate release” the following headline: 

Overdose Deaths in Washington top 2,000 in 2021 and Continue To Rise

SOURCE: https://doh.wa.gov/newsroom/overdose-deaths-washington-top-2000-2021-and-continue-rise

The first paragraph stated that this was more than a 66-percent increase compared to 2019. 

These statistics are in line with the “Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts” provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Products – Vital Statistics Rapid Release – Provisional Drug Overdose Data (cdc.gov)

The year ending in January 2021 for reported cases in Washington jumped from 1,777 to 2,222 for the year ending January 2022. The increase given is 25.04%

The following listing shows Washington’s drug overdose increase in relation to the other states with the most restrictive lockdowns on WalletHub. 

Year ending for January 2021 to year ending for January 2022

  • 45. California: 9,628 to 10,537= increase 9.44%
  • 46 (tied). New York: 2,947-2,905= decrease 1.43%
  • 46 (tied). Washington 1,777 to 2,222= increase 25.04%
  • 48. Virgina:2,259 to 2,304= increase 2.04%
  • 49. Delaware: 456 to 498= increase 9.21%
  • 50. District of Columbia: 514 to 519= increase 0.97%
  • 51. Vermont: 191 to 254= increase 32.98%

The above listing shows that Washington is second to Vermont for the largest increase in drug overdose deaths among the states with the most restrictive lockdowns. 

Curiously, New York has a decrease in drug overdose deaths, but that could be because of the staggering record-breaking increase it had in 2020.  The above headline from Spectrum News 1 reflects this increase as well as the following paragraph in the article: 

There were 91,000 drug-involved overdose deaths in in 2020, the highest in history. In New York, the number of overdose deaths in 2020 increased by 37% from 2019, with number of drug-involved deaths growing from 3,617 deaths to 4,965.

The top 5 states with the least restrictive rated lockdowns: 

  1. Iowa
  2. Florida
  3. Wyoming
  4. South Dakota 
  5. Texas

The following listing shows the increase in drug overdose deaths for those top five states. 

Year ending for January 2021 to year ending for January 2022

  1. Iowa:  428 to 479= increase 11.92%
  2. Florida: 7669 to 7983= increase 4.09%
  3. Wyoming 97 to 106= increase 9.28%
  4. South Dakota: 76 to 102= increase 34.21%
  5. Texas: 4,254 to 4,787= increase 12.53%

The above listing shows that the increase in South Dakota is higher than another of the above listed most restrictive states. Furthermore, the increases in Iowa and Texas are higher than the more restrictive states–except for Washington and Vermont. While The Highwire provided information indicating that lockdowns cause drug overdoses, and had been predicted to do so, the fact that the severity and duration of lockdowns may not always predict levels of increases of overdoses shows that causes are multifactorial and can vary region to region. Lockdown measures, and fear of lockdown measures, both exert emotional and psychological pressures.

All in all, the Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts data show that Washington ranks fourth in the United States for highest percentage increases for recorded drug overdose deaths from the year ending for January 2021 to the year ending for January 2022. The only states with higher percentage increases are Vermont, South Dakota, and Alaska.

Taking into account that Washington ranks forty-sixth for fewest lockdown restrictions shows that the state has a strong correlation between its highly restrictive lockdowns and its high increase in drug overdose deaths. 

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