Numbers are still coming in, but according to the Washington State Department of Health, overdose deaths in the first half of 2020 were 38% higher than the same time frame in 2019.

The DOH report Friday confirms what many medical providers, counselors and people already knew: COVID-19 has great exacerbated the problem.  DOH officials say Fentanyl abuse has resulted in a large increase in deaths.

According to the Department of Health:

"...preliminary data from 835 overdose deaths in the first six months of 2020 compared to 607 deaths in the first half of 2019. Fentanyl-involved deaths more than doubled from 137 to 309 during that time. Most deaths involved multiple substances."

To compound the issue, the introduction of illicit black-market Fentanyl into WA state over the last couple of years has been linked to many of these issues.

DOH says these fake but often lethally more powerful pills are stamped to look like legitimate drugs, with an "M30" or "A215" on the pill. The 'fake' Fentanyl is also being used to 'lace' or boost other narcotics and drugs.

Sadly, the DOH, instead of simply reporting that some ethnic groups have been hit the hardest by this drug epidemic, chose to use Inslee's "equity" lens approach when reporting this data. See bolded lines below:

"The increase in overdose deaths was highest among groups already dealing with inequitable health outcomes: American Indian/Alaska Natives, Hispanic/Latinx, and Black people."  (bold lettering added for emphasis).

The DOH report-release also included this interesting statement:

" If you use drugs, do your best not to use alone, and start slow using a tester amount to determine strength."

One would think the overall tone of the DOH report would be to strongly encourage users to pursue every possible help, addiction treatment, or assistance program; rather than give this impression.