Gulfport Police and medical personnel revived a woman who had overdosed on fentanyl on Dec. 3. The 49-year-old Gulfport woman was found unresponsive on the floor of a home near 18th Avenue South and 52nd Street South, according to police.
Gulfport police officer Hailey Wells revived the woman with Narcan (an emergency treatment for opioid overdoses). She regained consciousness and first responders brought her to a local hospital.
Five days later, on Dec. 8, Gulfport Fire and Rescue paramedics revived a 46-year-old man who was also unresponsive after ingesting an opioid, according to Gulfport Police Sergeant Thomas Woodman.
The overdose occurred near 49th Avenue South and 11th Avenue South.
The Gulfport Police Department has used Narcan 23 times since December of 2019, according to Commander Joshua Stone. Gulfport has seen 26 confirmed overdoses this year, with three deaths and several more deadly overdoses are suspected, according to Woodman, who added that several suspected fatal overdoses still need to be confirmed by the county medical examiner.
That could increase the total overdose count to include as many as eight deaths. The most recent fatal overdose occurred on Dec. 1, when a 38-year-old man died of a suspected fentanyl overdose near 54th Street South and 24th Avenue South. The man was found unresponsive at a Gulfport home and he was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.
Both in Florida and nationally, drug overdose deaths – especially those involving fentanyl and other opioids – increased during the coronavirus pandemic and its shutdowns, job losses and mental health strains, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Locally, Gulfport PD reports 47 overdoses (including 13 fatal ones) in 2020 during the depths of the pandemic and its shutdowns and mental health impacts. That compares to 23 overdoses (with three deaths) in 2019. Gulfport’s 2021 overdose numbers are poised to be down from 2020’s surge, but still above 2019’s pre-COVID levels.
The CDC’s latest data shows an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths nationally between April 2020 and April 2021. That translates into an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same time frame a year earlier. The latest CDC data shows 535 fatal drug overdoses in Pinellas County from March 2020 to March 2021, a 35% increase from before the COVID-19 pandemic and all its impacts. Pinellas had 397 deadly overdoses between January 2020 and January 2021.
Statewide, Florida has seen a 26.2% rise in overdose fatalities with 7,892 fatal overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021 versus 6,256 a year earlier.