Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Overdose deaths hit new two-week high in King County

Rick Bowmer
The Associated Press file
This June 1, 2018, photo, shows syringes of the opioid painkiller fentanyl in an inpatient pharmacy.

Health officials say fatal overdoses in King County have increased sharply over the last two weeks. The Medical Examiner's Office has identified 42 suspected or confirmed overdoses for the period ending Jan. 9.

Officials say it’s the highest number ever recorded in a two-week period in King County.

And it is double the average of fatal overdoses seen throughout much of last year.

Preliminary test results show a mix of substances involved in the deaths, including methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin and cocaine. 

The vast majority of them had multiple substances in their system," said Brad Finegood, the strategic advisor for behavioral health for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "So it's all across the board. It could very well be due to social isolation, but there could be other factors, we just don't know.”

And he says the pandemic has, in some cases, made medications that treat opioid use – like buprenorphine – more accessible through telemedicine.

Finegood adds that it's more important than ever to check on those who you think may be struggling.

“We do know that people are experiencing depression, anxiety, social isolation due to having to socially distance, due to COVID. And we really, really encourage people to reach out,” he said. “So, there's the Washington Recovery Helpline and Washington Listens, which are one-stop shops where people can call, talk to a trained professional, get access to services if they need.” 

He says if you or someone you know is living with addiction it’s important to have naloxone available to stop a possible overdose.

People also need to know they can call 911 without fear of arrest. Washington’s Good Samaritan Law protects the caller and the person overdosing from drug possession charges.


The Washington Recovery Helpline is 1-866-789-1511 and its website is

Washington Listens can be reached at 1.833.681.0211 or the 24-hour crisis line: 866-427-4747. Its website is




Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to