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Opioid-Related ER Visits in Richmond Increase Rapidly During Pandemic: Report

The number of people admitted to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center’s emergency room in Richmond after overdosing on opioids more than doubled during the 2020 pandemic quarantine compared to the same period last year, VCU researchers reported Wednesday.

“Social isolation, job loss, the inaccessibility of community resources — these could all contribute to the overdoses we’re observing,” Taylor Ochalek, a postdoctoral research fellow, said in a statement, WTVR-TV reported.

In both 2019 and 2020, most of the patients, 70% and 73% respectively, were men, according to researchers, who also noted that the percentage of Black patients increased from 63% in 2019 to 80% in 2020.

“The pandemic is more than a crisis of one disease,” said F. Gerard Moeller, director of the Wright Center and director of the VCU Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, WTVR reported. “Its ripple effects will be felt for some time in the form of secondary health impacts like addiction.”

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