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Two deadly weeks in New Haven: City sees surge in overdose deaths

Overdose Awareness Day, New Haven
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
File: August 2022 – New Haven resident Jay Ingram seeks medical advice from Phil Costello, a health care worker with Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, which provides care to those in need on the streets of New Haven.

The city of New Haven has experienced a surge in fatal opioid overdoses in the last two weeks, with 12 deaths since Jan. 25 – higher than the average of two per week.

“From the start of the pandemic in 2020, the rate has gone up much more quickly than it did statewide, in the New Haven area,” said Mark Abraham, executive director of DataHaven. “There is a very dramatic increase in the number of African American and Latino adults dying from overdose.”

The deaths occurred throughout New Haven with three reported in Newhallville and four in the Hill neighborhood – two of the city’s lower-income communities.

While autopsy results are pending from the state Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, initial reports indicate that this cluster of cases involved a deadly combination of drugs, with the mean age of those who died around 38 years old.

“Crack cocaine, potentially laced with opioids, is what we are suspecting in our preliminary reports thus far,” said Maritza Bond, New Haven’s public health director.

Bond urged residents with substance use disorder to get the substance of their choice tested – no questions asked – at the Yale-Community Health Care Van at 270 Congress Ave. in New Haven, open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and to also get Narcan kits distributed throughout the city.

“[People] can get results as quickly as 15 minutes,” she said. “We want people to understand what they’re consuming if they’re making that choice. Over 90% of the drugs that are illegally being sold in our community is fentanyl.”

City officials are directing residents to a 24/7 help center at 1-800-563-4086 or to connectgnh.org to get connected to treatment.

The New Haven Health Department will continue to monitor overdose data through the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program and is coordinating with local partners.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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