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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Hamilton County Monitoring Spike In Overdose Deaths

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Hamilton County officials are concerned about an increase in overdose deaths. As of Thursday, 13 people have died in the last five days.

"And we think what's happening is that people aren't calling 911 or don't want to go to a hospital right now because of COVID-19," said County Commission President Denise Driehaus during the weekly commission meeting. "And so, some of these other situations are flying under the radar."

In the public health alert issued Thursday, local health partners and the Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition shared three things:

  • Narcan is available, and is not only designated for injection drug users. Nearly all drugs contain fentanyl, the drug that can cause overdose and death. If you need Narcan, safe injection supplies, or fentanyl testing strips, call 513-316-7725.
  • If you or someone you know overdoses, you should still call 911, even if you administer Narcan.
  • Treatment providers are open and offering services in many innovative ways. If you need help, call 513-281-7880.

"As much as we've been talking about COVID-19, and rightfully so, I don't want to lose track of the fact that people that suffer -- especially addiction issues and mental health issues in this community -- are really struggling right now," Driehaus said. "We're in a tough situation and it's just going to continue to be difficult for people as we live in isolation."
Officials, in the alert, also told first responders they should make sure they have plenty of personal protective equipment and use it as necessary, as well as to be ready to use multiple doses of Narcan when dealing with patients.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.