The Shelby County Health Department in Tennessee has issued a drug overdose spike alert lasting from April 6 to May 7 after seeing an unexplained increase in drug overdoses between that time.
Recent data showed that seven separate spike alerts were triggered between those dates, with the most recent reporting 20 suspected overdose events, four of them fatal.
The Shelby County Health Department monitors drug overdose activity through first responder organizations and a database called ODMAP. Data from ODMAP also showed a seven-day alert for April 30 to May 7, with 131 total suspected overdose events and 20 fatalities; a 14-day alert for April 23 to May 7, with 209 total suspected overdose events and 35 fatalities; and a 30-day alert from April 7 to May 7, with 391 total suspected overdose events and 58 fatalities. Both the 7-, 14- and 30-day alerts are the highest recorded count to date for their respective time periods.
Tracking for overdose events began January 1, 2019, according to the department.
“The contributing factors behind the overdose spike are not clear, but the trend is concerning,” Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said in a statement
The spike alerts are not specific to opioid overdoses, but rather include all drug overdoses, the department said, adding that overdoses may include more than one substance.
“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that those with substance use issues continue to have access to the care they need, including treatment and community access to Narcan, which can reverse opioid overdoses if administered promptly,” Haushalter said.
There are more than 3,400 cases of the coronavirus in Shelby County, according to the county’s health department. The death toll for the county is 72. Tennessee has more than 16,000 confirmed cases and 264 deaths, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
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Jordyn Pair is a report with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]