Ohio county reports 1-year spike in fatal drug overdoses

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Overdose deaths in the county that includes Ohio's capital city jumped significantly the first three months of the year compared to last year, a coroner reported Wednesday.

Overdoses driven by the synthetic painkiller fentanyl jumped 55% for the first three months of the year compared to last year, according to the data released by Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz.

Overall, 191 people died during the three-month period this year compared to 123 last year. Demographically, most victims were white men who were either divorced or never married, Ortiz said. Methamphetamine- and alcohol-related deaths were also up.

February was an especially deadly month, with an 117% increase in deaths this year over February 2020.

This year’s increase in overdose deaths preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, the coroner noted.