Wisconsin Commemorates Overdose Awareness With The Same COVID Crackdowns That Spiked Last Year’s Opioid Death Surge

Wisconsin Commemorates Overdose Awareness With The Same COVID Crackdowns That Spiked Last Year’s Opioid Death Surge

With International Overdose Awareness Day approaching in just two weeks, it should be a time for reflecting on the massive surge in opioid deaths and what has contributed to them. This is especially true in Wisconsin where these deaths spiked in part thanks to onerous pandemic-related restrictions and panic. Instead, Dane County is slapping weary residents with another mask mandate, despite a steadily declining COVID-19 death rate that is almost nonexistent.

Dane County, Wisconsin’s second-most populous county that includes the capital city of Madison, announced on Tuesday that an indoor mask mandate would go into effect on Thursday for the entire county, including everyone 2-years-old and older.

“We still believe vaccines are our best tool to protect our community,” said Director of Public Health for Madison and Dane County Janel Heinrich, an unelected bureaucrat who unilaterally decided to mask up toddlers and healthy residents despite having one of the most vaccinated counties in the country. “But as cases continue to increase, requiring face coverings is an easy added layer of protection to further help keep people safe, including our youngest children not yet eligible to be vaccinated.”

This is yet another instance of elitists bureaucrats gaslighting residents with bribes of a “return to normalcy” if you’ll just be a decent human being and get the jab, only to have the rug violently ripped out from under them with mask mandates and a “just kidding!” One glance at the coronavirus death toll in Dane County shows this whole thing is a farce and a power trip. The seven-day average death count is resting uninterrupted at statistically zero.

Dane County

But the stakes are higher than unaccountable leaders spending their political capital to dish out more lies. With overdose deaths on the rise nationally, Wisconsin witnessed record levels of drug overdose deaths in 2020, as the people at the helm of public health decided their own personal power and control were more important than people’s jobs and mental stability and uninterrupted social services. Never mind the self-harm and youth suicide that skyrocketed across other parts of the country.

In 2020, amid lockdowns, mask mandates, and social isolation, reported overdose deaths in Wisconsin spiked by more than a quarter from the year prior, from approximately 1,200 to 1,530. Dane County specifically rose 7 percent. In nearby Milwaukee County, overdose deaths reportedly spiked by more than 30 percent in 2020 to a record 546 fatalities.

“The overdose trend is alarming,” said Alexandria Kohn, coordinator for the Milwaukee Area Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, which partners with health departments, health care providers, nonprofits, and advocacy groups to prevent and reduce substance misuse in and around Milwaukee. She said this steep rise in overdose deaths is coronavirus-related, as people suffering with drug addition were isolated from social support and cut off from preventative services and treatment.

“Our community members are hurting during the pandemic,” Kohn added.

Bureaucrats like the ones in Dane County have learned almost nothing in the past year and a half — probably because the goal has never been so much about saving actual lives as about signaling that they care while they accrue more power for themselves. To that end, the one thing they have learned is that they can issues decrees with impunity, and they’re mandating accordingly.

These health leaders made life-crushing decisions, such as the ones that isolated drug addicts, under the guise of  “health emergencies” throughout 2020, consequently created new and very real health emergencies, and got away with it. Shutting down some businesses, churches, and getting others to do their dirty work of mandating face coverings for entry, these bureaucrats successfully expanded their power, so now they’re doing it again.

If people like Janel Heinrich really cared about human lives, she would look at the ways pandemic panic contributed to the opioid epidemic in our state and change course. Almost nobody is dying in Dane County right now without COVID mandates. How many more will lose their lives as a result of them?

Kylee Zempel is an assistant editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @kyleezempel.
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