And Getting Worse? –
FEBRUARY 27, 2020 – The undercounting of opioid deaths is important because “you need to know the scale of a problem to know how to intervene in the problem,” Venkataramani says. Dealing with a crisis like opioid addiction—or coronavirus, for that matter—requires lawmakers and public-health workers to make choices about where to direct precious funding and resources. If the severity of the opioid epidemic is underestimated, local public-health departments could be shortchanged, and even more lives could be lost. This is particularly important in the case of infectious diseases like coronavirus, where knowing the total number of deaths can help public-health officials estimate its lethality.
Especially in the case of addiction, so much of illness happens outside the public eye that it’s sometimes only when someone dies that her neighbors or the government see exactly what she was going through.