GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — There has been a surge in opioid deaths and overdose calls in parts of the Triad amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to local first responders.
On Thursday morning, the Greensboro Police Department tweeted out a photo that detailed the opioid crisis this year in the city alone. It read, “This year, we have lost more people to opioid overdoses than from homicide and traffic fatalities.”
The post said there have been 405 overdoses and 64 deaths.
When asked, Greensboro Police Department representatives said this is not just a problem centered in one community. However, it is being seen in areas across the city.
High Point firefighters also report similar numbers, with firefighters having had to deploy Narcan on an overdose subject 94 times this year.
Fire Chief Thomas Reid said there have been 36% more calls for overdose response than this time in 2019.
“This is going to get worse if we do not pay attention to what’s going on,” said Louise Vincent, the executive director of Greensboro NC Urban Survivor Union, a group that helps those who are struggling addicts get clean.
Her organization has seen four times the amount of people seeking addiction help than in previous years.
“We were just seeing some progress from all of the hard work everybody has been doing around the country. Then, we have the global pandemic, and then everything sort of moves and shifts. And here are people who are already struggling in this crisis and without resources,” Vincent said.
Resources at her location, and other organizations, have also begun to run low.
“The supplies were all giving out, we are struggling to keep up with the demand. If our doors are open, then we’re open,” she said.
She said organizations like hers are in desperate need of medical supplies, PPE and mental health resources for those addicts who have begun to struggle with opioids during this pandemic.
In Vincent’s eyes, it’s a community problem that requires a community solution.
“We cannot allow ourselves to do that. The death toll that we have already seen, I’m not sure this community can stand it. We are resilient people, but this is a lot. We need to remember that people are hurting, and people are struggling,” she said.