This morning, St. Louis County Department of Public Health released new statistics that show a 13 percent decrease in the number of opioid-related deaths in 2019 compared to the previous year. Last year 266 people died from opioid overdose, compared to 307 in 2018. This was the first year since 2012 in which the number of deaths has decreased. However, 90 percent of 2019’s opioid deaths involved fentanyl, a synthetic opioid much more powerful than heroin.
While the overall drop in deaths is good news, there’s a troubling trend within that number. Deaths of Black males from opioid use jumped 47 percent in 2019 compared with 2018 and were the only group to experience an increase in opioid related deaths in 2019 – every other group experienced a decrease. This highlights the widening disparity in opioid-related deaths and indicates the need for unique, tailored responses.
“The dramatic jump in opioid-related deaths of African American men is alarming,” stated County Executive Sam Page. “The Department of Public Health is aggressively working on its outreach to our high-risk communities including providing access to Narcan and an education campaign on how to get help. We are committed to doing all we can to fight this epidemic.”
At this time there is still heightened concern that social isolation forced by the coronavirus pandemic is particularly dangerous for anyone who misuses opioids and DPH would like to remind everyone that anyone who wants free doses of Narcan, can receive them at all three of our Department of Public Health clinics from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit www.recoverstl.com.
The St. Louis County Department of Public Health also provides primary care, dental, mental health, substance use treatment and a wide variety of other services at our clinics. Adding to the ongoing services at North Central and South County clinics, the John C Murphy clinic will resume all patient care on Monday, June 15. DPH is taking new patients and will work with any county resident, regardless of their ability to pay. So if you do not have a doctor, or you have lost your insurance, please reach out to the Department of Public Health. DPH serves over 35,000 County residents every year and are here to help you get access to necessary medical care.
Community Center and Recreation Center Guidelines are now available online and can be found here. These guidelines apply to community centers and recreation centers as well as similar occupations and businesses which engage in direct interactions with members of the public. Adherence to these guidelines are for not only the protection of customers in these entertainment venues settings, but also for the protection of employers and employees and effective June 15, 2020.
The Dignified Transfer Center is currently accommodating 0 decedents. 56 additional individuals have been through the center and transported to a crematorium or funeral home, at the request of family. To date, 56 individuals have entered the Dignified Transfer Center.