Suspected overdoses kill 16 people in 3 days in Cuyahoga County


CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – A public health alert was issued Monday by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner due to a surge in overdose deaths.

Dr. Thomas Gilson reported 12 people died in Cuyahoga County on Saturday and Sunday from suspected overdoses.

Dr. Gilson says 4 others died Thursday.

“This recent trend of clustered overdoses is alarming,” Dr. Gilson warned in a statement.

8 women and 8 men are among the dead. Ages range from 21 to 78.

The majority of the victims are white and are in Cleveland, Euclid, Garfield Heights and Lakewood.

“The public should be aware that there is a serious threat to their lives if they are using street drugs right now in Cuyahoga County,” Dr. Gilson said in a press release. 

The medical examiner’s office says Cuyahoga County may see 700 overdose deaths in 2021 if things keep up their current rate.

553 people died of overdoses in 2020.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation reported undercover detectives had recently recovered a more potent and deadly variety of fentanyl called parafluerofentanyl or p-FF in Ohio.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says it’s the same drug attributed to the death of actor Michael K. Williams.

Forensic testing is underway to confirm which drugs caused the recent deaths in Cuyahoga County.

Lorain County Public Health (LCPH) noted a 20% increase in opioid overdose deaths from January to April of 2021 compared to the same timeframe in 2020.

LCPH also noted an increase in fentanyl recently detected in Lorain County, according to a press release.

If you or anyone 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 Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 216-623-6888.  

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