Drug overdoses climb during coronavirus pandemic
DELMARVA – Dorchester County officials say there’s been an alarming increase in drug overdose deaths in the region amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The numbers don’t lie,” said Dorchester County State’s Attorney William Jones.
“Overdoses are up, our fatal overdoses are up and that’s causing a lot of concern within not just the law enforcement community, but all of the public health community as well,” said Jones.
According to the Maryland State Police, the county has been identified as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
They say there have been ten overdose deaths in the area so far this year compared to seven for all of 2019 and according to Jones, it may be because of the stress and isolation caused by the pandemic.
“This has always been a front-burner issue for us, but it’s taken on an even higher sense of urgency than it did before,” said Jones.
Meanwhile, in Sussex County, the Seaford Police Department says they’ve also seen an uptick in drug overdoses.
Reports say the city is now the number one hotspot for drug overdoses in Delaware.
“That increase is maybe due to the fact that one we have a hospital, two, the 19973 zip code is a large area and also like Millsboro, Millsboro has a large amount of resources there for treatment and so do we,” said Rapa.
Officials add because Seaford and Dorchester County are neighbors they’ve noticed drug dealers are doing business between both regions.
“We know that some narcotics dealers they have connections over there, so when you have those connections, it’s like any other business,” said Rapa.
“They’re going to reach out, supply and demand,” said Rapa.
But officials tell us they’re now stepping up to the plate and coming with different ways to combat this increase in overdoses.
“Can we identify the people who need help getting the treatment? Can we identify the people and try to work backward and figure out where the supply is coming from?” said Jones.
“We have to beef up patrol, more drug investigations now that we’re back to fully staffed and uniform operations are leveling out,” said Rapa.
The Dorchester County State’s Attorney’s Office says they’re working closely with police and the health department to help combat this issue.
The Seaford Police Department says they’re also working collaboratively with other agencies for additional resources.
The Dorchester County State’s Attorney’s Office adds they are focusing on treatment over incarceration to help reduce the number of overdoses in the area.