Opioid Deaths: America’s Other Fatal Health Crisis Hasn’t Gone Away

In remote mountain towns of southwestern Virginia's coal country, prescription opioids flooded the area, decimating communities. Now, in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis continues to claim lives around the country.(Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

THE U.S. CORONAVIRUS death toll surpassed 213,000 recently, and while several pharmaceutical companies are working swiftly to develop a vaccine, none is available yet.

Now in the shadow of COVID-19, opioid misuse is another long-term health crisis that has killed over 450,000 people in this country since 1999, and it continues to rage. Unlike with COVID-19, there are interventions available for opioid use disorder – but for too many, they simply are not available.