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New Jersey overdose deaths spike by 20% amid pandemic, officials say

Girl, 11, revived with Narcan after heroin overdose: police
Posted at 4:23 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-22 16:23:55-04

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey health officials are sounding the alarm about the state’s opioid overdose crisis.

Overdoses in New Jersey are up 20% so far this year compared to the same time period in 2019, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Monday. So far, there have been 1,339 suspected overdose deaths this year.

“Amid the pandemic, the department is also concerned that the overdose epidemic will not only persist, but will worsen,” Persichilli said. “We do not want to see this trend continue.”

Social isolation, grief and job loss related to the COVID-19 pandemic are among the factors suspected to be contributing to the increase.

Health officials also suspect the use of opioids alone, with no one to take them to the hospital, is a factor as the number of emergency room visits is also down, Persichilli said.

In response to the spike, the state Department of Health is offering grants of up to $100,000 each to help local health departments study overdose patterns in their communities.

The funding will support the creation of overdose fatality review teams, which will analyze data, identify regional trends and evaluate strategies to decrease opioid deaths.