MARTINSBURG — As the Northern District of West Virginia continues to see the effects of the opioid epidemic, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell is concerned about the increase in overdose calls during the peak months of COVID.
From March through June 2020, the state of West Virginia, as did many other states across the country, closed many public places and asked that residents shelter in place. During this same time frame, the number of EMS calls due to suspected overdoses was 24% higher than the same time frame in 2019 for the five counties with the highest overall calls in the Northern District of West Virginia: Berkeley, Harrison, Monongalia, Jefferson, and Marion.
“In speaking with those on the front lines battling the drug epidemic, this isn’t a coincidence. The isolation, job loss, and disruption in some treatment services most likely led to this increase. This is a concerted group effort. I know we can’t prosecute our way out of the issue. And while we need to be ever vigilant in getting the drugs off the streets, we will also continue our community outreach work,” said Powell. “My office has worked diligently through this pandemic to stop the dealers in their tracks, and we are also working with Quick Response Teams, educators, and the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy to assist those offering prevention and treatment solutions.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office offers prevention education, support with Quick Response Teams, community informational meetings, and other forms of outreach. For more information on outreach efforts, go to https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndwv/programs/community-outreach.
The data is collected by the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy from Emergency Medical Service providers across each county. To view the data, go to https://dhhr.wv.gov/office-of-drug-control-policy/datadashboard/Pages/default.aspx.