The medical examiner’s office in Milwaukee County said in a tweet on Monday that it was responding to the 14th probable overdose fatality since Friday morning. It was not clear what type of drugs were involved in the deaths, but officials said three of the 12 fatalities occurred in less than one hour on Sunday, while five occurred in less than five hours on Saturday.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said provincial numbers showed nearly 68,000 drug overdose deaths were reported last year, but the number was expected to rise as investigations continue. The number illustrated a slight decrease from previous years, when the numbers climbed each year since 1990.
While some health officials celebrated the dip, noting a decline in heroin and prescription drug deaths, others pointed out that the overdose death rate is still seven times higher than it was a generation ago, and that fentanyl, cocaine and other drug fatalities are continuing to rise.
“We’re still in a pretty sad situation that we need to address,” Rebecca Haffajee, a University of Michigan researcher, told the Associated Press.
In 2017, there were 926 overdose deaths involving opioids in Wisconsin, which translated to a rate of 16.9 deaths per 100,000 residents, which was higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, according to DrugAbuse.gov. The greatest increase in opioid-related deaths in the state involved fentanyl.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner said autopsies on the latest victims were scheduled for Monday, the Associated Press reported.