Fifty-eight more people died of drug overdoses in San Francisco last month, bringing the yearly total to at least 621. That compares to 441 deaths in all of 2019.
The latest numbers put San Francisco on track to losing nearly two people a day by the end of the year and dwarf the 173 deaths from COVID-19 the city has seen so far this year.
The drug crisis has been exacerbated by fentanyl, a powerful opioid that can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
The numbers come a day after the Centers for Disease Control reported 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020 — the largest number of drug overdoses for that length of time ever recorded and a sign the epidemic is getting worse around the country.
The pandemic has also intensified the epidemic by disrupting city services and forcing many people, who often rely on others to help save them if they overdose, to use alone.
More than 39% of the deaths occurred in the Tenderloin and South of Market, the same neighborhoods where the bulk of drug-related arrests also occur. About 82% of those who died were men.
Many people overdosed in low-income apartment buildings and in city-funded hotel rooms for the homeless, according to city data obtained by The Chronicle. Many others died in plain sight around the city, on sidewalks, in alleyways and in parks.
But as a record amount of people die from overdoses, a staggering amount of people have also been saved by Narcan, the opioid reversal drug.
From January to the beginning of November, Narcan has been used 2,975 times to save someone from the brink of death, according to the Drug Overdose Prevention and Education Project, a city-funded program that manages the San Francisco’s overdose response.
Since those numbers are self-reported, the DOPE Project says they are probably a major undercount.