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King County overdose dashboard shows snowballing fentanyl deaths

Mar 15, 2023, 1:02 PM

fentanyl...

FILE - A display of the fentanyl and meth that was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Nogales Port of Entry is shown during a press conference, Jan. 31, 2019, in Nogales, Ariz. On Tuesday, Feb. 7, President Joe Biden faced harsh rebukes from multiple angles as he spoke during his State of the Union address about trying to contain a drug overdose crisis driven by powerful illicit synthetic opioids like fentanyl, that has been killing more than 100,000 people a year in the U.S. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP, File)

The King County overdose dashboard went online Tuesday, which showed a troubling trend of overdose deaths outpacing numbers from previous years.

In 2022, there were 1,008 deaths in King County related to drug and alcohol poisoning, an average of 2.76 a day. As of March 15, 208 people have lost their lives to confirmed cases of drug and alcohol poisoning, an average of 2.81 a day.

King County: 685 fentanyl overdoses in 2022 compared to 3 in 2015

The recent surge in overdose deaths has been primarily driven by fentanyl, health officials reported, which was involved in 70% of all confirmed overdose deaths that occurred last year.

Fentanyl was responsible for the deaths of 708 people, an average of 1.94 a day in 2022. Compared to that, as of March 15, 2023, 172 people in King County died of an overdose involving fentanyl, an average of 2.32 a day.

This number could be even higher, with 57 cases still pending a report back from the county toxicologists.

“What you’re seeing is a result of deep holes in our social safety net and an ongoing national opioid epidemic,” a spokesperson with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority said to KIRO 7. “These harms are preventable and elevate the need for partnership across housing and health care systems, which is why KCRHA and Public Health are working together on overdose prevention.”

The most disproportionately impacted communities in King County, according to the report, are:

  • People experiencing homelessness and people living in temporary or supportive housing
  • American Indian and Alaskan Native (non-Hispanic) and Black (non-Hispanic) residents
  • Communities located in Seattle and South King County

KIRO 7 contributed to this report

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