Huge Spike in Overdose Deaths Puts Cuyahoga County on Pace for Most Deadly Year Since 2017


  • Eric Sandy / Scene
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, Thomas Gilson, has issued a special alert after the county recorded 69 overdose deaths in the month of March and 13 additional deaths in the first week of April.

The alert advised that if the county continues at its current pace, it would record 739 overdose deaths in 2021. That'd be the most since 2017, when fentanyl and carfentanil usage was at its height locally — 729 people in Cuyahoga County died from overdoses that year.

“This is a serious development and the community should be aware of this spike in overdose deaths,” said Dr. Gilson, in a Cuyahoga County press release. “Some preliminary data suggests minority communities may be more vulnerable in this outbreak. Risk reduction strategies like naloxone kits and fentanyl test strips are available at no cost and are effective at saving lives.”

Gilson said it was too early too say which drugs were responsible for the majority of the recent spike in deaths, but that free naloxone and fentanyl test strips are available at the following locations.
  • Circle Health Services (12201 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106 | 216.721.4010)
  • Care Alliance Clinic (2916 Central Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115 | 216.535.9100)
  • Care Alliance Clinic (1530 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114 | 216.781.6724)
  • MetroHealth – Mobile Unit (3370 W.25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44109)
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