New statistics from the Vermont Health Department show the number of deaths involving opioid drugs in the state increased 38% in 2020 over the previous year.

In a report released this month, the Health Department said that preliminary data showed the 157 people died from opioid-related causes last year, up to 114 in 2019. The synthetic opioid fentanyl was involved in 88% of the deaths.

The health department report did not suggest a reason for the increase, but the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attributed a nationwide increase in overdose deaths to disruptions to daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.