Maine Drug Overdose Deaths Continue to Rise.
Posted by Ed Folsom, January 27, 2023, Updated March 2, 2023.
The numbers for year 2022 Maine drug overdose deaths, through November, are in. They are not good. According to the Maine Drug Data Hub, there were 649 drug overdose deaths during the first 11 months of 2022. That’s an increase over the record 631 overdose deaths in 2021. Because the average number of monthly overdose deaths in the first 11 months of 2022 was 59, we can expect the final count for 2022 to be more than 700.
Most of these deaths were caused by fentanyl overdoses. For years now, Illicit fentanyl has been mixed with or used to replace what is sold as heroin. But fentanyl is also now mixed with a wide variety of street drugs and is pressed into pills that appear to be pharmaceuticals such as Oxycodone, Xanax and Adderall.
Where does illicit fentanyl come from? It used to come from China, as fentanyl. But these days, China, and to a lesser degree India, ship precursor chemicals to drug cartels in Mexico that use the chemicals to manufacture fentanyl and package it for sale. From there, it is smuggled over our southern border. Once inside the U.S., it makes a heavy contribution to U.S. drug overdose deaths that have recently totaled more than 100,000 per year.
In Maine, between April 1, 2020, and November 30, 2022, we had 1,657 drug overdose deaths, largely involving fentanyl. This is also the time frame of the COVID-19 pandemic. For comparison purposes, there have only been 48 deaths with COVID-19 in people under age 40 in Maine during the entire pandemic. Fewer Maine people under age 40 died with COVID-19 during the entire pandemic than the number of people who die from drug overdoses in a single month. In fact, only 345 Maine people under the age of 60 died with COVID-19 during the entire pandemic, which is less than the number of people who died of drug overdoses in Maine during the last 6 months alone.
Maine Pandemic Numbers – Vaccines and Breakthroughs.
On a related topic, as of January 27, 2023, Maine has recorded a total of 2,861 deaths with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. Of those, 2,068 – 72.28% – involved people age 70 and over, and 2,516 – 87.9% – involved people age 60 and older. That means only 345 – 12% – of Maine’s recorded deaths with COVID-19 occurred among people under age 60 throughout the entire pandemic.
Since October of 2021, I have kept track of the Maine CDC’s weekly releases of COVID-19 “breakthrough” numbers. These are the numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations with COVID-19, and deaths with COVID-19, since vaccines were first made available in Maine, along with the numbers of such cases, hospitalizations and deaths that occurred among people who received a final vaccine dose at least 14 days before they tested positive – “breakthroughs.”
Early in this period, relatively few people were vaccinated, so there were fewer people in Maine’s population who could have a “breakthrough” case. As a result, the vast majority of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths occurred among the unvaccinated. But as time went on and more people in Maine’s population were more than 14 days post final vaccine dose, the “breakthroughs” increased both absolutely and as a percentage of total new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
The Maine CDC’s first “breakthrough” numbers for 2022 ran through January 3, 2022. As of January 3, 2022, the number of cases recorded in Maine since vaccines were first made available was 111,571. Of those, 23,425 were “breakthroughs.” The number of hospitalizations with COVID-19 was 2,050, of which 506 were “breakthroughs.” The number of deaths with COVID-19 was 815, of which 242 were “breakthroughs.” The CDC’s first reported numbers for 2023 ran through January 2, 2023, and were as follows: cases, 271,424, “breakthrough” cases 125,893 (64% of case increase); hospitalizations 5,126, “breakthrough” hospitalizations 2,450 (57.27% of hospitalization increase); deaths 1,132, breakthrough deaths 642 (56.7% of death increase). This was the state of “breakthroughs” for the entirety of 2022.
Now let’s look at the picture over the last 4 months. Between 9/21/22 and 1/23/23, cases rose from 251,973 to 275,458 and “breakthrough” cases rose from 112,130 to 128,714. During this time frame, “breakthrough” cases were 16,584 of the 23,485 additional cases, or 70.61%.
Hospitalizations with COVID-19 during this period rose from 4,337 to 5,328, while “breakthrough” hospitalizations rose from 1,881 to 2,607. “Breakthroughs” were 726 of the 991 new hospitalizations with COVID-19 – 73.25% – during the 4-month period. If this is only because people hospitalized for other reasons happened to test positive for COVID-19, this has been true all along. If the numbers are inflated for the 4-month period, they were inflated all along.
Deaths with COVID-19 rose in the four months between 9/21/22 and 1/23/23 from 1,747 to 2,004, and “breakthrough” deaths rose from 736 to 928. “Breakthrough” deaths were 192 of the 257 deaths recorded in the period, or 74.7%. Again, if these numbers were inflated because they include people who did not die from COVID-19, but who only happened to test positive near their time of death from other causes, this is nothing new for the time frame. In this sense, the COVID-19 death numbers were inflated all along. In fact, Maine’s CDC doesn’t only count deaths as Covid deaths if the person coincidentally tests positive for COVID-19 when the person dies from other causes. As reported in the February 15, 2022, Portland Press Herald, up until January 2, 2022, a death was counted as a Covid death if the person tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of death. On January 2, 2022, the Maine CDC expanded that period and began counting deaths as COVID-19 deaths if the person tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days of death.
Remember their methods and don’t get fooled again.
Update March 2 2023: I linked this post to my LinkedIn account when I originally posted it. Within a couple of days, LinkedIn notified me that they had restricted the post so that only I can see it, because it contains “misinformation. Pretty obviously, someone complained, because what would LinkedIn know apart from what the data and the links to the sources say?
In the meantime, Maine’s CDC has removed all information from it’s “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Updates and Information” website page regarding the age breakdown for COVID-19 cases and deaths throughout the pandemic. They also stopped posting updated information on “breakthrough” COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths after the information was last updated through February 13, 2023. In fact, they have taken down the cumulative information as it existed on February 13, 2023. As I looked today for any updates to the now-missing (memory-holed) information, I noticed the following explanation of what is now counted as a COVID-19 death, under the “About the Data” tab:
“What is Included in Deaths? On January 1, 2023, Maine CDC changed its definition of COVID-associated deaths to match new standards set by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and US CDC. Maine CDC will apply this new definition for all COVID-associated deaths occurring on and after January 1, 2023. Under the new definition, a COVID-associated death is defined as a death in which:
The death certificate indicates COVID-19 or an equivalent term as an immediate, underlying or contributing cause of death, OR
A case investigation for a confirmed, probable, or suspect SARS-CoV-2 infection case determined that COVID-19 was the cause of death or contributed to the death.”
I point this out because if anything in this post could possibly be considered “misinformation” it would have to be my statement regarding how the Maine CDC classifies a COVID-19 death, and how it classified them in the past. As the above explanation from Maine’s CDC explains, the method of counting COVID-19 deaths has been changed for deaths occurring on and after January 1, 2023. Before then, all those COVID-19 deaths that occurred throughout the pandemic were counted as previously described.