Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Preckwinkle, Cook County Officials Sound the Alarm on Rising Opioid Overdose Deaths

Tuesday, July 14, 2020
WTTW News
by Kristin Thometz

Officials are sounding the alarm on the rising number of opioid-related deaths in Cook County, which they say is on track to see twice as many deaths from opioids in 2020 as it did in 2019.

“While much of this year has been consumed by our fight to contain COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted our communities of color, we’ve had to contend with skyrocketing homicide rates which almost universally took the lives of Black and Brown people and we must face the devastating toll the opioid crisis is taking on our community as well,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Tuesday morning.

In 2019, there were 605 opioid-related deaths between Jan. 1 and July 13. So far this year, 773 deaths can be attributed to opioids, according to Cook County officials.

“But that only tells part of the story,” said Cook County Medical Examiner Ponni Arunkumar. “We also have 580 pending cases. We know traditionally 70%-80% of cases wind up being ruled as opioid overdose deaths. … This means this year there are (already) more than 1,200 opioid overdose-related deaths.”

The medical examiner’s office confirmed a total of 1,267 opioid overdose deaths in 2019, and 1,148 such deaths in 2018. The majority of the victims are people of color, according to Arunkumar.

Among the 773 people who died this year, 63% were Black or Latino, according to Arunkumar, who said people ages 45-54 were most likely to die from an opioid overdose, followed by those ages 55-64.

“Fentanyl is the culprit in the overwhelming majority of these cases,” she said. “The majority of the victims (live) on the West Side in Austin and the East and West Garfield Park neighborhoods.”

These deaths are “by and large preventable,” said Arunkumar.

Despite the increase in opioid-related deaths, emergency rooms aren’t seeing an increase in patients seeking help, according to Dr. Steve Aks, division chair of emergency medicine and toxicology at Cook County Health.

“This means people by and large are not coming to the emergency room or hospital at a point of crisis. This is very important. We’ve actually seen decreases in volume of emergency room (visits) since the beginning of the pandemic,” Aks said. “This is extremely alarming with respect to opioid overdoses.”

Hospitals and emergency rooms are safe, Aks said. “Due to the pandemic, we asked individuals to stay home unless it was an emergency. An overdose is such an emergency,” he said.

Aks urges people to call 911 during an opioid overdose because paramedics can begin treating someone on the scene or en route to the hospital. “An opioid overdose death in the emergency room is a rare event,” he said. “We don’t want people to be afraid to come to the emergency room. We are here to serve everyone.”

Patients are asking for help in other ways, however. According to officials, Cook County Health has seen a 20%-25% increase in patients seeking help for substance use.

“We are working to keep patients safe by breaking down barriers to access through telehealth visits, frequent team engagement and outreach, access to naloxone for overdose prevention, and longer prescription supplies to avoid disruptions in care,” said Dr. Juleigh Nowinski Konchak, lead physician for medication assisted treatment at Cook County Health. “We have a long history of serving a vulnerable population and we see every day the toll this crisis is taking on them.”

Through a collaboration between Cook County Health and the Chicago Recovery Alliance, anyone can take part in a mobile syringe exchange program and be connected with Cook County Health over the phone, according to Konchak, who said CCH clinics will begin dispensing naloxone as well.

In addition, CCH is in the process of building a partnership with law enforcement to equip them with naloxone, according to Dr. Kiran Joshi, assistant incident commander of CCH operations. “It’s important to blanket the community with as much naloxone as possible,” he said.

The county is also in the process of building partnerships with law enforcement that would connect people with access to care, according to Joshi.

Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz | (773) 509-5452 | kthometz@wttw.com



Recent Headlines

Kim Foxx drops more felony cases as Cook County state’s attorney than her predecessor, Tribune analysis shows
Monday, August 10, 2020
Chicago Tribune

How we analyzed Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s record on dropped cases
Monday, August 10, 2020
Chicago Tribune

State offering $5,000 grants for tenants struggling to pay rent amid pandemic. Here’s how to apply
Monday, August 10, 2020

New Cook County ethics rules due for September resurrection as appointed board nears 6-month hiatus
Monday, August 10, 2020
The Daily Line

County, federal courts closed today
Monday, August 10, 2020
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Preckwinkle: Dramatic rise in suicides among Cook County's Black population
Sunday, August 09, 2020
Daily Herald

1,382 New COVID-19 Cases in Illinois, 8 Additional Deaths
Sunday, August 09, 2020
WTTW News

‘The need remains critical’: Rent and mortgage relief arrives as state, county announce $320 million in grants
Saturday, August 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle Announces COVID-19 Recovery Rental Assistance Program
Saturday, August 08, 2020
Journal and Topics Online

Aug. 7 Brings a Disturbing Trend: Evanston Had 12 New COVID-19 Cases, Suburban Cook County Had 535, and the State Had 2,084
Friday, August 07, 2020
Evanston RoundTable

Cook County Officials Launch Rental Assistance Grants for Suburban Residents
Friday, August 07, 2020
WTTW News

County launches $20 million rent help program
Friday, August 07, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

‘We’re in really, really uncharted territory,’ Kim Foxx says of gun violence in Chicago
Friday, August 07, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County to provide $20 million in CARES Act money to rental aid for suburban households, but Preckwinkle stresses additional federal funds needed
Friday, August 07, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Will voting by mail be safe and secure this fall? Here's what officials say.
Friday, August 07, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Announces $20 Million COVID-19 Recovery Rental Assistance Program for Residents of Suburban Cook County
Friday, August 07, 2020
Special to suffredin.org

New Cook County rental assistance program to offer up to $4,500 per household hit hard by COVID-19
Friday, August 07, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

‘Restorative’ courts are expanding in Chicago — and that’s a good thing
Friday, August 07, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

He's leading redevelopment of the old Cook County Hospital
Friday, August 07, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Who's right about recidivism? Each pol has his or her own data.
Friday, August 07, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP