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73% uptick in overdose deaths in 2020 so far in Ohio county: Coroner’s report

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An Ohio county’s coroner’s office on Wednesday reported that it saw a disturbing 73.4% increase in overdose deaths during the first six months of 2020.

The Franklin County Coroner’s Office report states that it saw 437 individuals die from overdoses during the first half of this year, a 73.4% increase from last year. The Coroner’s office published the numbers in a press release as part of its preliminary report on 2020 overdose statistics.

The press release also detailed the numbers tied to various kinds of narcotics.

Most startling were the fentanyl figures. Fentanyl comprised the lion’s share of overdose deaths, making up 85.5% of all those so far in 2020, compared to 79% from the same six-month period in 2019. Heroin-related deaths increased to 5% of total drug fatalities this year compared to 2.5% last year.

The remaining data on drug-related fatalities shows that the victims were mostly males, 71% of them, while females made up only 29%.

Additionally, the 25-44 age group had the highest numbers of drug-related deaths and the victims were disproportionally African American, amounting to 27.4% of deaths. The group represents roughly 24% of the county’s population, according to June 2019 estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.

This Franklin County report reflects the broader, ongoing opioid epidemic that has wreaked havoc in many communities across the nation. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a spike in drug use and overdoses, since millions of Americans have been confined to their homes for months on end. More than 40 states saw a jump in opioid fatalities this year, according to an October report by the American Medical Association.

It should be noted, however, that cannabis saw the largest portion of the increase in drug usage during the pandemic whereas party drug usage fell, according to a more internationally focused study by The Economist. While two out of five people they surveyed reported an increase in consuming cannabis, they found that the use of ecstasy, cocaine, and ketamine plummeted by 41%, 38%, and 34% respectively.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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NY Gov Hochul issues executive order: Polio ‘an official diisaster’

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New York Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday issued an executive order that Polio is now considered an official disaster. 

“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, New York State Health Commissioner. “If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up-to-date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all.”

The virus that causes polio has been found in the wastewater of more than one county, according to state health officials. “A sewage sample from Nassau County collected in August tested positive for poliovirus, following the prior detection of the virus in wastewater samples in Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County and New York City, further indicating that the virus is spreading in the area to some degree” reports The Wall Street Journal.

“The Nassau County sample was also genetically linked to the single confirmed case of paralytic polio that had been identified this summer in a young adult resident in Rockland County who was unvaccinated.”

Hochul’s executive order has been issued through Oct. 9, and expands the network of providers able to administer polio vaccinations to “include emergency-medical-services workers, midwives and pharmacists.”

The new order makes providers send polio-immunization data to the New York State Department of Health in order to better help health officials “focus vaccination efforts on areas of low uptake.”

New York state health officials have sent out alerts to providers, have hung fliers “in houses of worship, grocery stores and summer camps and talked with community leaders about boosting vaccination rates this summer.”

The Wall Street Journal Reports:

The poliovirus spreads mostly when a person touches their mouth after coming in contact with an infected person’s feces. Most infected people don’t develop any symptoms but can still spread the virus, a major concern for health officials, and around a quarter develop flulike symptoms. Those who are vaccinated are at low risk, health officials have said, as getting three doses of the polio vaccine administered in the U.S. is at least 99% effective at preventing paralytic disease.

Health officials, however, also said that certain New Yorkers who are fully vaccinated but at high-risk should receive a single lifetime booster. That applies to individuals who will or might have close contact with a suspected or confirmed polio patient, as well as healthcare workers in those areas who might handle poliovirus samples or treat patients who might have polio…

Two forms of the virus can cause paralysis, one of them being the wild poliovirus found in nature. The case in New York, on the other hand, is caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus, a mutated form of a strain used in an oral polio vaccine…

The oral polio vaccine, used in many parts of the world outside of the U.S., relies on a weakened, live form of the virus that recently inoculated children shed in their feces. In places with lower vaccine uptake, the weakened virus can sometimes circulate and mutate to become more like the wild virus and potentially paralyze people who are not fully vaccinated.

 

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