Screening News Update: COVID-19 on Food, Record Number of Overdoses, and Pot in the Garden State

Screening News Update: COVID-19 on Food, Record Number of Overdoses, and Pot in the Garden State

By Jennifer Gladstone

You can officially stop wiping down those groceries, U.S. sets heartbreaking record, and NJ finally makes marijuana legalization official. Get the details in today’s EBI Screening News Update.

Food Does Not Spread COVID-19

It was this time last year when we all became aware of this thing called Coronavirus. About a week later, many went into lockdown, afraid not only of going out into the world but also of bringing the outside in.

People started leaving groceries in the garage for days and then carefully wiping every single item as it came into the house. Eventually, most of us started slacking off on this intense routine. Some experts are now finally saying all this scrubbing wasn’t doing much more than raising anxiety levels. 

Nearly a full year after the rush on disinfectant, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have officially announced there is no credible evidence that COVID-19 can be spread through food or food packaging. 

The statement says the agencies’ confidence in the safety of the food supply remains “steadfast,” and that no one needs to be worried about contracting the virus from eating or touching containers.

Overdose Record

While the worry over take-out has eased, COVID-19 has led to another problem that is causing concern across the country. It’s literally an epidemic in the midst of the pandemic. 

According to the CDC, from May 2019 to May 2020 the U.S. saw the highest number of drug overdose deaths ever in a 12-month period. More than 81,000 people lost their lives. 

Researchers say the disruption of daily life hit those who struggle with substance abuse hard. Not only was there the added stress and anxiety everybody faced, but many drug treatment facilities closed, while the drugs themselves were still readily available. Opioid and methamphetamine use surged. More than 70% of these deaths were linked to prescription or illicit opioids. Drugs laced with fentanyl are also blamed for a significant number of deaths. 

The CDC is working with the states to find ways to curb this epidemic. They have created five key strategies:

  • Conduct Surveillance through Research
  • Build State, Local, and Tribal Capacity
  • Support Providers, Health Systems, and Payers
  • Partner with Public Safety
  • Empower Consumers to Make Safe Choices

You can read a detailed description of the plan here.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation that officially decriminalizes the use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. New Jersey is the 14th state to legalize the drug for recreational use

Even though it is now legal, and you won’t get in trouble for possessing the drug, you still can’t legally buy it anywhere in the state. The law goes into effect immediately, but the newly formed Cannabis Regulatory Commission still has to figure out how the entire system is going to work. They have to distribute licenses and set up all of the rules for distributors – a job expert’s say could take up to six months.

Some of the rules that are already in place:

  • You are not allowed to grow your own at home.
  • Possession of more than 6 ounces of marijuana is still illegal and could mean jail time. 
  • Convictions and ongoing cases based on previous marijuana charges could be vacated. 

The governor has been pushing legalization since 2016. Many hope the new industry will help the state’s economy recover from the pandemic.

For information about EBI’s drug testing solutions visit

About the Author

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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