Opioid Crisis Spikes Amid Pandemic

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY JUL 9, 2020

Can Sarasota handle a rising epidemic and a pandemic at once?

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, sounded alarms this week on a spike in overdose deaths at levels unseen since the peak of the opioid crisis in the county. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office reports 29 people have died from heroin overdoses in the first six months of 2020. Only 13 fatal overdoses occurred in the county in all of 2019. That rate puts the county on track to surpass the 37-death high of 2017 when the Sarasota-Bradenton area served as Florida’s epicenter of a Florida drug epidemic.

“As far as a reason, there is simply no way to attribute fluctuations in overdose trends to a particular cause,” said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Megan Krahe. “We see routinely fluctuations from year to year, including a significant increase from 2016 to 2017.”

Manatee hasn’t seen quite the same spike, but has suffered 49 overdose deaths this year. Over the first half of 2019, the county recorded 46 deaths.

While law enforcement can’t pin one specific cause for the increase, Buchanan fears the isolation caused by quarantines and lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic has delivered consequences in terms of mental health.

“The spike in drug overdoses in our region during the coronavirus pandemic is tragic and alarming,” Buchanan said. “We have to get treatment to those in need both in Southwest Florida and across the country. As we continue to combat the coronavirus we need to make sure we are addressing other health impacts exacerbated by this pandemic.”

He said drug overdoses nationwide spiked 18% in March, then 29% in April and 42% in May, according to the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program. Now he wants the next stimulus package Congress passes tied to COVID-19 to include mental health funding. That’s especially important as some mental health providers in the region scaled back or closed down during the pandemic.

“The opioid crisis has destroyed too many families and lives,” Buchanan said. ”We cannot forget about this crisis even during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Graphic courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

« View The Thursday Jul 9, 2020 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Sarasota County Launches Virtual Rain Barrel Classes

Sarasota County Launches Virtual Rain Barrel Classes

Jul 16, 2020

Application Period Opens Today for Safety First Small Business Grant Program

Application Period Opens Today for Safety First Small Business Grant Program

Jul 14, 2020

Manatee County Commission: Follow Surgeon General's Recommendation

Manatee County Commission: Follow Surgeon General's Recommendation

Jun 26, 2020

Four Sarasota County Commissioners Earn Presidential Advocate Honors

Four Sarasota County Commissioners Earn Presidential Advocate Honors

Jun 18, 2020