June 1, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Queens is in the grips of an opioid overdose epidemic.
The number of people who have died from an opioid overdose has shot up in 2020, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said Monday.
In the first five months this year, Queens County recorded 86 suspected opioid overdoses – a 56 percent jump in overdose deaths compared to the same period in 2019. In the first five months of 2019, 55 people had died from a suspected opioid overdose.
The spike follows a period when the number of suspected opioid overdoses appeared to have leveled off. For instance, there were 265 opioid overdose deaths in 2019, up slightly from 251 the year before.
The spike in numbers come as Queens is being hit with coronavirus. There have been over 6,200 confirmed or probable deaths from the virus in Queens, according to the latest official city-data.
Katz noted that opioid addiction remains one of the greatest public health threats in a generation.
Opioids are extremely deadly, Katz said, particularly when illicitly manufactured with fentanyl and other derivatives.
Last year, around 60 percent of opioid overdose deaths in Queens were from such ingredients, she said.
She said America is in the grips of an opioid epidemic with over 67,000 recorded deaths involving the drug nationwide in 2018, citing the latest CDC data.