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Note: 2018 data is provisional; Data: Centers for Disease Control; Chart: Axios Visuals

Fewer Americans died from drug overdoses last year than the year before. It's the first time that number has gone down in almost 30 years.

Yes, but: This progress is both fragile and modest. Overdose deaths fell by about 5% last year, according to provisional data from the federal government. But overdose deaths rose by roughly 316% between 1999 and 2017. There's still a long way to go, and more than 68,000 Americans still died of overdoses last year.

  • "Lives are being saved, and we're beginning to win the fight against this crisis," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement yesterday.
  • "This crisis developed over two decades and it will not be solved overnight," Azar said.
  • Overdoses from prescription opioids are falling, but deaths from fentanyl, cocaine and meth all continued to increase last year.

Between the lines: The decline in overall mortality appears to be driven mainly by a decline in the abuse of prescription painkillers. But overdoses involving fentanyl, cocaine and meth are all continuing to increase.

  • Naloxone, the drug that reverses the immediate effects of an overdose, has also become much more widely available as the crisis has worsened, and that is all but certainly helping to save lives.
  • But it's not clear whether efforts to get people into longer-term treatment programs are making a dent yet, given the rising demand for illegal drugs.

Go deeper: How to change treatment for opioid addiction

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 11,304,534 — Total deaths: 531,659 — Total recoveries — 6,111,195Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 2,841,124 — Total deaths: 129,689 — Total recoveries: 894,325 — Total tested: 34,858,427Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineNew Jersey gov. wants national face mask requirement
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.
4 hours ago - Sports

Sports return stalked by coronavirus

Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Austin Meadows bumps elbows Friday during a workout at Tropicana Field. Photo: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports via Reuters

When MLB teams arrived at the ballpark this weekend for the first summer workouts of 2020, the comforting sounds of baseball brought smiles to players' faces.

Between the lines: Even the loudest crack of the bat couldn't mask the eerie silence or distract from the ever-present coronavirus threat.

4 hours ago - Health

239 scientists call on WHO to recognize coronavirus as airborne

People walk at the boardwalk in Venice Beach. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

A group of 239 scientists in 32 countries is calling for the World Health Organization to revise its recommendations to account for airborne transmission as a significant factor in how the coronavirus spreads, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The WHO has said the virus mainly spreads via large respiratory droplets that fall to the ground once they've been discharged in coughs and sneezes. But the scientists say evidence shows the virus can spread from smaller particles that linger in air indoors.