State data released Wednesday show a 2% increase in opioid related overdoses in Massachusetts for the first nine months of this year. The numbers are the first to bear out what many advocates have feared for months now: that the opioid epidemic may be worsening amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A visible epicenter of the state’s opioid epidemic is in Boston — at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, an area commonly called “Mass/Cass.” The area is home to several social service and medical facilities including Boston Medical Center, addiction treatment centers, methadone clinics and homeless shelters that provide services to thousands of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents. Like many other things, the coronavirus pandemic has amplified some of the neighborhood’s challenges.
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit Massachusetts, Boston health officials scrambled to set up what they called “comfort stations” — fenced in areas staffed by medical and outreach workers where people could go to access services – and public bathrooms — especially with many drug treatment and other service programs and businesses shut down.
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