ST. LOUIS — Already on a deadly run in recent years, the number of Blacks dying from drug overdoses here and in St. Louis County spiked 54% in the first half of 2020, setting off alarm bells among those who work in this space.
“These figures reflect what we are hearing from many of you on the ground: the overdose crisis has reached a new level and is an urgent state of emergency,” Rachel Winograd, who helps administer millions of dollars in opioid response grants in Missouri, wrote in an email Wednesday to stakeholders.
“The increases among Black males and females are devastating — particularly when we consider 2019 was already a record-breaking year for Black men,” she added. “This shows us how much our continued efforts are needed … as well as the need to develop new strategies and partnerships.”
Between January and July, there where 343 overdose deaths overall in St. Louis and St. Louis County, up from 260 for the same period in 2019, or 32%, according to preliminary data. Of the 2020 numbers, 179 involved African Americans, up from 116.
Reached by phone Thursday, Winograd said the situation couldn’t be any worse.
“We are witnessing genocide of Black people in our region,” she said. “What is going to spur government and institutional leaders to act — with money, reallocation of funds, investing in the people who live and work in these hardest hit areas to bring them the resources they have always been asking for?”
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