Take 2: Internet companies cut costs, overdose deaths reach all time high

The Take 2 series features brief weekly updates on the state or nation’s relevant news for the community.

Hannah Gonzalez

The Take 2 series features brief weekly updates on the state or nation’s relevant news for the community.

Affordable internet to all: President Joe Biden announced on May 10 that 20 broadband providers have agreed to lower costs and increase speeds for high-speed internet plans for low-income people across the country. As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Biden and Vice President Harris worked with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to create the Affordable Connectivity Program  (ACP), which provides eligible households $30 per month off their internet bills. Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into law on November 15, 2021. It provides the basis for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) programs and activities through 2026 by investing in infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and mass transit, water infrastructure, resilience and broadband. 

Significance: “High speed internet is not a luxury any longer,” the president said at an event to unveil the program in the White House Rose Garden. “It’s a necessity, and that’s why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.” Despite being a vital part of modern-day life, many Americans still lack internet access at home, and with public locations like libraries and schools closed during the pandemic, many were cut off entirely. As many as 48 million households qualify for the program and to help people sign up, the administration is launching a website for applications and directing agencies that run the qualifying government programs to contact recipients to inform them about their eligibility. 

Drug overdose causes a high death rate: More than 107,600 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the highest annual death toll on record, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on May 11. Overdose deaths rose 15 percent in 2021 from the 93,655 deaths the year before, according to a report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). A numerous amount of the deaths came from overdoses involving fentanyl, a drug that is often mixed with others, and methamphetamine. State health officials said many of the deaths appeared to be the result of combining the two.

Significance: The data demonstrates one of the effects of the pandemic. There has been an increase in substance abuse amid widespread unemployment and more Americans reporting mental health issues. To combat the overdose deaths, Joseph Friedman, an addiction researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the U.S. should invest in harm reduction and treatment programs for people with substance abuse disorders. The White House in recent weeks announced President Biden’s first national drug control strategy and a plan to combat meth use to lower death rates.