CUMBERLAND — Allegany County recorded 20 opioid-related overdose deaths in the first six months of 2020, a 53.8% increase over the same period last year, the Maryland Department of Health reported Tuesday.
Statewide, opioid-related deaths were 1,187 during the first six months of the year, a 9.4% increase.
Regionally, Western Maryland — Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties — saw a 48.1% increase, with 80 deaths in the first half of the year. Garrett County reported three deaths, up 50% from the first half of last year, and Washington County reported 57 deaths, a 46.2% jump.
During the first six months of 2019, 13 Allegany County residents died of opioid-related overdoses, according to state statistics. That number was two in Garrett County and 39 in Washington County.
No let up in calls
First responders in Allegany County handled nearly a dozen suspected drug overdose calls over the weekend, according to public safety officials.
“The Allegany County Joint Communications Center dispatched ambulances, fire departments and police agencies to 11 reported overdoses,” Lt. Todd Bowman, public information officer for the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services, said.
Bowman said the number of overdose calls handled Saturday and Sunday could actually be higher.
“This number does not include calls dispatched for unconscious patients, cardiac or respiratory arrests or other similar types where they are later determined to be related to an opiate overdose,” he said.
Bowman said that a large majority of the weekend calls took place in the city of Cumberland and nearly every town or municipality in the county was affected.
The high amount of overdose calls has been a continuing trend for first responders. During the three-month, May-July period, first responders averaged about 14 overdose calls per week.