When crises collide: COVID-19 and overdose in the Downtown Eastside

published on April 14, 2020 in UBC Faculty of Arts

Last month, the B.C. government declared COVID-19 a public health emergency. But in the Downtown Eastside, the novel coronavirus has amplified an existing public health emergency: the overdose crisis, which has claimed more than 4,700 lives in B.C. in the last four years.

Front-line workers and community residents have warned that the virus could devastate a vulnerable population that is already struggling with homelessness, health issues, and substance use disorders, and that stay-at-home guidelines aimed at the general population aren’t an option for those without a home. Compounding the problem, many drop-in centres have shut their doors or severely reduced their services, cutting off access to meals, support services, and information.

We asked Lindsey Richardson, a UBC sociologist who specializes in the socio-economic determinants of health, how this outbreak is impacting people on the Downtown Eastside and what can be done to better support residents…

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