Public health alert: 82 overdose deaths reported in Cuyahoga County

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office issued an alert on Tuesday following 69 suspected overdose deaths in March and 13 in the first five days of April.

Toxicology testing has not yet confirmed which drug(s) have caused the recent spike but currently fentanyl and cocaine appear to be the most common drugs found in overdose deaths, according to a release from Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson’s office.

The release says data from only the first quarter of 2021 makes it too early to project how fatal this year will be but if deaths continue at this pace, Cuyahoga County could see over 700 overdose deaths.

The last time Cuyahoga County suffered over 700 deaths was in 2017 when fentanyl, cocaine, and carfentanil were the most common drugs found in our overdose deaths.

In March 2017, Cuyahoga County suffered 39 overdose deaths and a total of 727 for the year.

The medical examiner says at this rate, projected deaths for 2021 could surpass that at around 739.

“This is a serious development and the community should be aware of this spike in overdose
deaths,” Gilson said. “Some preliminary data suggests minority communities may be more
vulnerable in this outbreak. Risk reduction strategies like naloxone kits and fentanyl test strips
are available at no cost and are effective at saving lives.”

FREE fentanyl test strips are available at the following locations:
Circle Health Services (12201 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106 | 216.721.4010
Care Alliance Clinic (2916 Central Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115 | 216.535.9100)
Care Alliance Clinic (1530 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114 | 216.781.6724)
• MetroHealth – Mobile Unit (3370 W.25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44109)

If you or anyone that you know is actively using or recovering from opioid addiction, contact Project
DAWN for information at 216-778-5677. Eligible program participants are given FREE Naloxone kits, the opioid reversing antidote.

The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County provides a 24-hour crisis hotline at 216-623-6888.

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