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Medical examiner issues health alert after 9 suspected overdose deaths in 48 hours in Cuyahoga Co.

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Posted at 1:55 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 13:56:38-04

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson has issued a public health alert after nine people have died from suspected overdoses in a 48-hour period in Cuyahoga County.

“The medical examiner’s Office has seen 9 fatalities in last 48 hours which is measurably higher than what we have been seeing for the first four months of 2020. The interruption of drug use due to COVID-19 may mean users tolerance has dropped and therefore they are at higher risk of overdose and fatality,” said Dr. Gilson said in a statement. “Additionally, any disruption of the illicit drug supply due to COVID-19 may mean that users are subject to a wide variety of other dangerous substances being substituted without their knowledge.”

In April, there were a total of 40 overdoses deaths and 45 so far for May, which is already reaching the May 2019 total of 50.

The medical examiner said toxicology testing has not yet confirmed which drug(s) have caused this recent spike in deaths.

Residents are reminded there are three locations in Cleveland that offer free fentanyl test strips:

  • Circle Health Services (12201 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106 | 216.721.4010)
  • Care Alliance Clinic (2916 Central Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115 | 216.535.9100)
  • Care Alliance Clinic (1530 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland OH 44114 | 216.781.6724)

If you or anyone you know is actively using or recovering from opioid addiction, you can contact Project DAWN for information at 216-778-5677.