Officials: Fentanyl deaths rose in Hennepin County in 2019, continuing worrying trend


February 10, 2020

Mary LaGarde, executive director of the Minneapolis American Indian Center, pauses to answer a media question in which she responded that it is her observation that the opioid epidemic has not gotten better in the local Native American community since the start of the homeless encampment last summer during a press conference Thursday, April 4, 2019, at Minneapolis City Hall in Minneapolis, MN. Standing to her rear is Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey, left, and Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson.] DAVID JOLES • The Minneapolis mayor and Hennepin County sheriff unveiled recommendations for tackling the opioid epidemic in hospitals, jails and during emergency response. The results are part of a year-long opioids task force involving the city, county and community members.

Deaths related to the highly potent painkiller fentanyl continued to rise in Hennepin County last year, according to preliminary data from the county Medical Examiner's Office, mirroring a national trend that has public health officials and others worried.

At least 135 people died from fentanyl or fentanyl analog overdoses countywide in 2019 - a tenfold increase from the number that fatally overdosed in 2015, the last year for which reliable data are available. Overall opioid-related deaths ticked up slightly, to 170 last year from 163 in 2018, but were still down from the five-year high of 197 recorded in 2017.


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