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WASHINGTON (WGNO) — U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) speaks on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon on the opioid epidemic in Louisiana. Over 1,900 Louisianans lost their lives to opioid-related overdoses last year.

Cassidy started by providing data from 2020 which shows that largest increase in opioid deaths in the last 50 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69,710 Americans died last year from opioid-related overdoses – a 37 percent increase from 2019.

In 2020, Louisiana saw the steepest surge in drug overdose deaths in the nation, In fact, overdose deaths in the state reached a record high of 2,100 leading into March 2021. Overdose mortality increased statewide by 56 percent last year.

Opioid-related deaths increased 51 percent in New Orleans with 365 fatalities. Meanwhile, Jefferson Parish increased 69 percent, St. Bernard Parish by 64 percent and St. Tammany Parish by 35 percent.

In East Baton Rouge Parish 242 people died of an overdose last year, and has already recorded 214 deaths in the first nine months of 2021.

“These numbers are devastating,” said Cassidy, who feels the opioid epidemic can no longer take a back seat to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Every day we don’t take action, another mother loses a child, a son loses a father, a wife loses a husband,” he added. “I am committed to solving this crisis and to saving these lives. Let’s come together as congress and rededicate ourselves to solving the opioid epidemic.”