Risks

Vaping, Opioid Addiction Accelerate Coronavirus Risks, Says NIDA Director

In 2018, opioid overdoses claimed about 47,000 American lives. Last year, federal authorities reported that 5.4 million middle and high school students vaped. And just two months ago, about 2,800 cases of vaping-associated lung injuries resulted in hospitalizations; 68 people died.

Until mid-March, these numbers commanded attention. But as the coronavirus death toll climbs and the economic costs of attempting to control its spread wreak havoc, the public health focus is now dramatically different.

In the background, though, these other issues — the opioid epidemic and vaping crisis — persist in heaping complications on an overwhelmed public health system.

It is creating a distinctly American problem, said Dr. Nora Volkow, who heads the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Volkow spoke with Kaiser Health News about the emerging science around COVID-19’s relationship to vaping and to opioid use disorder, as well as how these underlying epidemics could increase people’s

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The Other COVID Risks: How Race, Income, ZIP Code Influence Who Lives Or Dies

It started with a headache in late March. Then came the body aches.

At first, Shalondra Rollins’ doctor thought it was the flu. By April 7, three days after she was finally diagnosed with COVID-19, the 38-year-old teaching assistant told her mom she was feeling winded. Within an hour, she was in an ambulance, conscious but struggling to breathe, bound for a hospital in Jackson, Mississippi.

An hour later, she was dead.

“I never in a million years thought I would get a call saying she was gone,” said her mother, Cassandra Rollins, 55. “I want the world to know she wasn’t just a statistic. She was a wonderful person. She was loved.”

Shalondra Rollins, a mother of two, had a number of factors that put her at higher risk of dying from COVID-19. Like her mother, she had diabetes. She was black, with a low-salary job.

And she lived

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Young People Weigh Pain Of Job Loss Against Risks Of Virus

Emilio Romero, 23, has mixed feelings about losing his job. It’s a major financial setback, but with two previous hospitalizations for pneumonia, a restaurant was not the safest place for the recent college graduate as the COVID-19 pandemic mushroomed.

“Working in a restaurant, there’s obviously exposure to a lot of people and dirty plates,” Romero said. “Even before I was officially laid off, I was getting pretty nervous about the way everything was playing out, for my own safety.”

Romero worked his last shift as a restaurant host in San Diego’s Little Italy on March 16, the same day San Diego County officials ordered all restaurants to switch to takeout and delivery only. Since then, COVID-19 cases in California have increased by more than 22 times, from 598 to 13,438 as of April 4. If

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