Opioid overdose deaths surge in Tennessee’s largest county

Published 11:20 am Tuesday, May 12, 2020

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MEMPHIS (AP) — Health officials in Tennessee’s largest county say the number of overdoses related to opioids and other drugs has surged in the past month, reaching 58 deaths in a 30-day period.
Shelby County, which includes Memphis, reported 391 suspected overdoses from April 7 to May 7, according to a news release from the county health department. The 58 deaths is the highest county total for a 30-day period since record keeping began in January 2019 using a database of incidents reported by first responders and the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center.
The county health department said it has issued seven “spike alerts” in the past month. The alerts call attention to a sharp rise in drug overdoses, including those involving opioids.
In a news release, health department director Alisa Haushalter said the contributing factors are not clear, “but the trend is concerning.”
“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that those with substance use issues continue to have access to the care they need,” Haushalter said.
In a news conference last week, Haushalter said it is important for communities to have access to Narcan, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses.

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