HERBOLD: Soaring overdose deaths in King County
Information from District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold
King County reported on a grim milestone recently: so far in the first quarter of this year, 296 King County residents died of drug or alcohol poisoning. This exceeds the total number of overdose deaths in all of 2012, all in a single quarter. It also puts us on track to exceed last year’s record 1,003 overdose deaths by more than 18%, if deaths continue at the current rate.
This is driven largely by a dramatic increase in fentanyl- and methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths.
I understand the Board of Health will receive a briefing on this work at our April meeting. I plan to host a presentation from Public Health on this crisis in a May meeting of my Public Safety & Human Services committee. We will also hear a report on the City’s plan for the anticipated $14 million we expect to receive from a state settlement against opioid medication distributors. I appreciate Councilmember Sara Nelson’s work during the budget to request this report, which is being authored by the Human Services Department and Mayor’s Office in consultation with Public Health. You can sign up to receive notifications of that meeting here.
While addressing this crisis is a primary responsibility of the County, not the city, I know this crisis hits City residents hard. The City has stepped forward to provide additional funding to help folks struggling with substance use disorder. It’s important we note this painful moment, as I know every death and overdose means precious lives lost and pain and grief for their loved ones.