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Spike in New Castle County overdoses

Delaware Public Media

New Castle County Police is flagging another spike in overdoses in the county this week.

County police say they responded to 11 drug overdoses over the weekend—three of which resulted in death.

That prompted the county to put out a notice about the increase Monday, and police say there have since been six additional overdoses and one death.

A county police spokesman, Master Corporal Michel Eckerd, says evidence of heroin as well as fentanyl was recovered from the scenes of the overdoses and those substances are suspected to be involved in the four deaths.

He says the investigation into the sale of drugs potentially responsible is ongoing. 

“While we have numbers in overdoses throughout the days that are expected, this is well above and beyond the ordinary,” said Eckerd. “The details of that investigation though, we’re not going to be able to get into.”

In 2019, the county merged two programs to create a Behavioral Health Unit—combining its Hero Help Program, which refers people to substance abuse treatment rather than arrest them in certain cases, with its Mental Health Alliance, which pairs a mental health clinician with a police officer to respond to certain 911 calls.

“The department takes a very comprehensive approach not just to supply reduction, but also to, in our case, demand reduction,” said Dan Moss, the Hero Help Program coordinator.          

The overdose death rate has been on the rise for years in Delaware with illicit fentanyl driving the crisis.

Last year Delaware had a record 447 drug overdose deaths, giving the First State the second highest overdose death rate in the nation.

The state estimates 214 overdose deaths so far this year.

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