Pandemic meets epidemic: Co-location of COVID-19 and drug overdose deaths in the United States

  • Navya Tripathi Buchholz High School, Gainesville, FL, USA
  • Nancy Hardt Professor Emerita, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA
Keywords: Spatial correlation, hot spot analysis, 2020, census regions


Drug overdose deaths (DOD) in the last two decades have increased over 300 percent. In 2019 alone, 71,000 deaths represented a 7% increase from the previous year. According to recent data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 81,230 overdose deaths occurred in the United States from June 2019 to May 2020, the highest number of DOD recorded in a 12-month period. Early 2020 saw the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, which CDC suggests has amplified the previously alarming rise in drug-related mortalities. A hot spot analysis of COVID-19 and DOD rates, as well as a spatial correlation between the two datasets at the state level on a monthly time step, showed a significant increase in DOD during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study, conducted for the period of March through July 2021, showed a spatial correlation between the two types of mortalities in the initial months of 2020. Furthermore, the hot spots for both types of mortalities were concentrated in the northeastern states. The COVID-19 mortalities shifted southeast in July 2020, but DOD data was unavailable for further analysis. Since DOD are a leading contributor to preventable deaths, the results of the study may help focus the efforts of effective and innovative programs to reduce substance use disorder and related mortality through increased access to treatment. During the pandemic, access to such facilities was reduced.

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How to Cite
Tripathi, N., & Hardt, N. (2021). Pandemic meets epidemic: Co-location of COVID-19 and drug overdose deaths in the United States. Journal of Community Safety and Well-Being, 6(4), 174-178.
Original Research