San Diego sees spike in overdose deaths

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SAN DIEGO — County health officials are warning of a spike in drug overdoses since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The county said in a news release Friday that the number of overdose deaths was more than 50% higher in July and August than in February and March. Officials said an average of three people are dying per day in the county.

Public health officials said the highly potent and often deadly drug fentanyl is killing San Diegans. San Diego County recorded 152 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2019. Through the first week of August of this year, 233 fentanyl-related deaths had already been noted. Deaths this year are nearly three times the 79 deaths that occurred at the same time last year due to fentanyl toxicity.

The county said local trends in fentanyl overdose deaths may be compounded by stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including restricted access to care, disruptions in usual drug supply routes and economic stressors leading to increased drug misuse.

County health officials have asked the local medical community to increase access to naloxone to prevent fentanyl-related deaths.

People who need help should call the San Diego County Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240 or 2-1-1 San Diego. Both resources are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you suspect someone has overdosed, the first thing to do is call 9-1-1. If you have it, administer naloxone. Read more about the medication and the county’s warning.

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